By admin | December 2, 2012
By Richard Allen
Over the coming days and weeks, I will run a series of columns(in no particular order) dedicated to what I believe to have been the more important happenings of the past NASCAR season. Here is one of those pieces:
Something feels strange about this past NASCAR Sprint Cup season. What could it be?
Oh yeah, for the first time in six years, a car won the series championship that was not built in the shops of Hendrick Motorsports. Again, that’s six years. What was certainly an amazing run for the sport’s most powerful organization proved to be tiresome for those who were fans of anyone else.
HMS driver Jimmie Johnson reeled off five consecutive championship campaigns from 2006 through 2010. He and crew chief Chad Knaus seemed to be on their way to having the 48 team’s logo permanently etched onto the trophy until Tony Stewart broke their string in 2011.
While Stewart drives for Stewart-Haas Racing rather than directly for HMS, the Rick Hendrick owned organization provides engines and cars to SHR which causes that team to operate basically as a satellite of power house company. And to add to the streak of uniformity in Cup titles, it was Stewart, then driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, who last won(2005) before Johnson went on his impressive run.
So for seven straight years, the Sprint Cup champ has been named either Stewart or Johnson, and for six of those seasons whichever it was drove an HMS machine.
In what seems every bit as unlikely as HMS prepared cars winning six titles in a row is the fact that Brad Keselowski’s championship was the first in NASCAR’s top division for iconic racing owner Roger Penske. Even with championship caliber drivers such as Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch piloting his cars in previous years, ‘The Captain’ had until now been unable to capture stock car racing’s biggest prize.
And more, Keselowski’s triumph broke a string of seven consecutive championships for Chevrolet. The #2 Dodge became the first non GM branded car to win a title since Kurt Busch won in a Ford back in 2004.
Domination often helps any particular sport because it produces villains for everyone to root against. However, many fans tend to lose interest when that domination becomes stale and seemingly unending. That had become the case with the Hendrick Motorsports run of success.
This season’s achievement by Keselowski and Penske was good for racing. Almost as good as the failure to repeat by HMS.
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