While two other big name NASCAR teams — Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske Racing — are reeling from massive penalties for car infractions, the Hendrick Motorsports team continues to dominate in the premier NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway seemed like round two of the bout between Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth earlier in the year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Kahne was unable to make a jump on Kenseth as the sun didn’t come out from cloud cover to give his No. 5 car’s setup the edge he needed.
Hendrick Motorsports’ stable is stacked as usual this year except for Jeff Gordon, who has struggled over these first eight races. Hendrick superstar and five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has already picked up two wins this year and is sitting firmly atop the points standings. In fact, the closest driver to him is teammate Kasey Kahne.
Even the weaker link in the Hendrick chain, Dale Earnhardt Jr., has had a good year so far. Junior has been able to pull out five top-10s this year, as well as three top-five finishes. He has ran into a rash of bad luck on the track recently and is still lacking the all-important victory lane visit.
While his winless drought is nowhere near as long as his last, if he is going to have any hope of a Sprint Cup Championship, he needs to start winning races.
The fact of the matter is that at the end of the year, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson will undoubtedly make their way into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Whether Junior and Gordon can make it will heavily depend on if they can get some wins and if they can start finishing solidly week in and week out.
Kahne or Johnson can take that Sprint Cup, but don’t count out reigning champ Brad Keselowski or already two-time weekend sweep winner this year, Kyle Busch.