By admin | July 31, 2008
By Richard Allen
When Jimmie Johnson passed Kyle Busch late in the race at the Chicagoland Speedway I devised a story in my head that the pass was symbolic of Hendrick Motorsports ending its “slump” and reassuming its place at the top of the NASCAR heap. However, Busch ruined the story by making a bold move on the race’s final restart and capturing yet another win for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Now, the time may have come for that story. After the debacle in Indianapolis, Hendrick Motorsports may have showed they are indeed the top team in NASCAR. When such adversity arises the cream usually rises to the top. A race with so many things going wrong and so many factors playing into the running and strategy planning of the race is a time when the most prepared will excel.
In other words, it was a race tailor made for the Chad Knaus led #48 team.
And it was not just the Johnson team. Jeff Gordon, seemingly invisible in some races this season, suddenly emerged as a factor. And, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ran well all day. Tire problems put him behind early. His 12th place finish was not indicative of how good his car was throughout the race.
All the while Kyle Busch and his team have been having their success I have been thinking the Hendrick teams were just getting themselves prepared for a big run when title time approaches. If that is the case, the time has come.
Look at how the Brickyard race played out. Everyone had tire issues, but the Hendrick teams seemed best prepared to handle them. Other teams certainly had their moments. Roush Fenway’s Carl Edwards and the Gibbs teams along with a few others had their chances. But, from about the halfway point on it looked as if Johnson was in the driver’s seat.
It may prove that the race in Indy really did not show us anything. It might be that the race was an odd occurrence that had nothing to do with anything else. Or, it may have showed us something else. It may have showed us that indeed the cream is rising to the top at just the right time.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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