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NSCS: Hendrick Motorsports 2014 Season Preview

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By David Morgan – Senior NASCAR Writer, Editor (@damorgan86)

December 27, 2013

RAYMOND, Miss.– Another Sprint Cup Series season is complete and another championship for Hendrick Motorsports in 2013. Can anyone stop the dominance of this juggernaut team in 2014?

After losing out on the championships in 2011 and 2012, Hendrick Motorsports headed into the 2013 season with guns blazing and proved no match for the competition en route to earning their 11th Sprint Cup Series title.

Jimmie Johnson was the ringleader of the group, coming out of the gate strong to win his second Daytona 500 in February and following that up with another five wins on the year, along with 16 top fives, 24 top tens, 1985 laps led and an average finish of 10.7, best in the Sprint Cup Series. Johnson also never fell lower than third in the points all season long and held the top spot for 28 of the 36 weeks of the season as he went on to win his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship, moving him to within one of tying legendary drivers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt at seven championships apiece.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., whose No. 88 team shares a shop building with Johnson’s No. 48 team, was the second best Hendrick Motorsports driver in 2013, finishing fifth in the final rundown. Over the 36 race season, Earnhardt did not make it to Victory Lane, but finished with 10 top fives, 22 top tens, 342 laps led, and an average finish of 12.6. Half of Earnhardt’s top five finishes in 2013 were second place finishes, including three in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. If not for an engine failure in the opening race of the Chase at Chicago, Earnhardt could have really made some noise in the championship race.

Finishing sixth in the final points standings, Jeff Gordon had an up an down year in 2013. Gordon struggled for much of the early part of the season, falling to 14th in points on the heels of five DNF’s. Once the second half of the season started after Daytona, Gordon seemed to have new life, making his way back into contention to make it into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. After Richmond, Gordon looked to be on the outside looking in when the points were reset, but following the “Spingate” scandal, Gordon was placed into the Chase as the 13th driver. Gordon would go on to score his first and only win of the season at Martinsville and finished the season with eight top fives, 17 top tens, 434 laps led, and an average finish of 14.4.

Last, but certainly not least, is Kasey Kahne, whose 2013 season seemed be an embodiment of “Murphy’s Law” as it seemed that anything that could go wrong for the No. 5 team, did go wrong in 2013. Kahne started off the season with two finishes outside of the top 25 at Daytona and Phoenix, but rallied back into the top ten in points with a second place at Las Vegas and his first win of the season at Bristol in March. Following that race, Kahne settled into the top ten and looked well on his way to securing a Chase berth on points, but DNF’s at Michigan and Daytona, as well as other poor finishes, dropped Kahne out of the top ten in points as the regular season concluded at Richmond. Kahne did wind up making the Chase with a Wild Card spot due to his two wins on the season. Once in the Chase, Kahne only would manage to rise to 12th in the final points standings, marking a final points finish outside of the top ten for the seventh time in his ten year Sprint Cup Series career.

As the 2014 season rapidly approaches, look for all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers to be back in Victory Lane and in the Chase next season. With the statistics that the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers put up in 2013, as well as the driver/crew chief combinations and sponsor arrangements remaining the same in 2014, odds are that your 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion resides at Hendrick Motorsports.

While one of the other organizations may be able to find their way to the championship table in 2014, they will certainly have their work cut out for them when going to battle against the fearsome foursome of drivers at Hendrick Motorsports.

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About David Morgan

David Morgan serves as the Associate Editor at Rubbings Racing and can be followed on Twitter (@damorgan86). A native of Raymond, Mississippi, Morgan has covered NASCAR events all over the United States.

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1 Comment

  1. NASCAR Times

    December 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Can’t wait It’s going to be a GREAT season!

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