For what seemed like years, Hendrick Motorsports has carried the torch as the leading team in NASCAR. Now, Rick Hendrick is the first to admit that he has been surpassed by the Joe Gibbs racing squad throughout the 2010 NASCAR season.
“Looks like he passed me,” said Hendrick while at the new NASCAR Hall of Fame. “He didn’t [catch] me. He lapped me.”
Recent history proves Hendrick’s claim to be accurate. Gibbs’ racing team has collected the last two Sprint Cup Series races, and of the last six, has finished first four times.
Leading the way for Gibbs racing has been Denny Hamlin, who swept this past weekend at Darlington Speedway with the Nationwide Series and NASCAR race. Hamlin has been the driving force behind the recent success, as he has won three times. Kyle Busch is the other driver to race his way to victory lane over the past six races for Gibbs racing.
Hendrick Motorsports had a successful beginning to the season, with Jimmie Johnson winning three times. Recently however, Johnson has not performed as well as expected, having failed to lead a single lap over the course of the last two races.
When looking at the total number of laps led by both teams, Hamlin and Busch have 695 laps led between them. Compare that with Hendrick driver Jeff Gordon, who has led 709 it does not seem like much. Gordon has failed to notch a victory in 2010 however.
“I tell you guys every year when we do the media tour you’re going to be asking me in the summer what’s wrong? What happened? You fell off, what gives, what’s the problem?” Hendrick remarked. “The problem is you have things out of your control or mechanical and you’re not as sharp with the spoiler as somebody else is.
“And then luck has a big part of it.”
Because of Johnson however, Hendrick Motorsports has won the previous four Sprint Cup Series Cups on the back of the four-time defending champion. Tony Stewart was the last to win it for Gibbs Racing, in 2005.
President of Gibbs Racing, J.D Gibbs says that he does not believe they are at the top of the sport.
“The only way to figure that out is the end of the year and you’re on the stage,” Gibbs said. “If you’re on stage you are the guy. If not, you’ve got work to do.”
Hendrick stated that it is difficult to maintain the top position year in and year out.
“Nobody is going to stay on top forever,” Hendrick said. “All I want to do is be competitive. That’s the same thing I’ve said to you for 20 years. I’ll be saying it if I’m here 10 years from now.”
This week NASCAR shifts to Dover International Speedway on Sunday May 16. Online Sportsbooks have yet to post lines for the event, as it draws closer check back for the odds.