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Junior, Gordon and Johnson driving for Honda…Never Say Never!

By admin | June 28, 2009


By Richard Allen

Recently, NASCAR let it be known they were talking to other manufacturers about the possibility of new makes of cars being brought into the sport. If you do not happen to speak NASCAR, allow me to translate. “We are in the process of losing one of out biggest sources of income and are desperately seeking someone to fill the void.”

I have no inside information here, but I do have at least some ability at deductive reasoning. That reasoning has led me to believe that Honda may be the next auto company to enter NASCAR and the obvious team for them to enter with would be Hendrick Motorsports.

Let’s look a little further. HMS is clearly the standard bearer for Chevrolet. However, it is certainly no secret that General Motors, Chevrolet’s parent company, is having major financial difficulties. As a matter of fact, it was brought to light through court proceedings recently that GM had failed to make a scheduled payment to Richard Childress Racing to the tune of $2.5 million. It would seem logical to assume that the same amount was withheld from HMS as well.

It does not matter who you are, $2.5 million is a significant amount of money.

Even powerful HMS might have to go looking for another partner without the financial support they are used to getting. Honda would be the logical choice to take the place of Chevy. Rick Hendrick is a major dealer of General Motors cars, but he is also a major dealer of Honda automobiles as well. There was a well documented legal matter regarding Hendrick and Honda to further illustrate his relationship with the Japanese auto giant.

The recent rumor, as reported by mikemulhern.net, that Danica Patrick is all but assured of landing a ride with HMS next season further confirms my suspicion of a move to Honda.

Patrick is a leading spokesperson for the Japanese auto maker which is heavily involved in IndyCar racing, where she currently applies her trade. Honda already uses the highly marketable female driver in their commercials and infomercials.

Honda totally dominates IndyCar competition. They are the only engine supplier for that form of racing. However, they have indicated a desire to be in a more competitive environment. And more, IndyCar racing appears to be on the verge of once more tearing itself apart. That’s all the more reason for both Honda and Patrick to move on.

Honda has previously denied having any interest in coming to NASCAR. Now, however, the timing is much better. Dodge appears to be headed on its way out of the sport. Chevrolet is treading on corporate thin ice. Ford and Toyota seem to be on more solid financial footing but have each indicated they are not looking to expand their involvement in racing, and have in fact pulled back in the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series.

When Toyota announced its intention to come to NASCAR they were forced to pay the sanctioning body a hefty sum of money just for the right to enter. Then, they were told they would have to prove themselves in the lesser divisions before getting the opportunity to move to Sprint Cup racing. Perhaps Honda was turned off by these rigid stipulations in previous years.

Also, the possibility of adding the sport’s most successful team with the biggest personalities driving for them could serve as a major draw.

Now, with the possibility of other manufacturers leaving, NASCAR likely does not have the luxury of being so rigid. Within the next couple of years they may be staring the possibility of having only three, or even two, manufacturers involved in the face. They might be a bit more welcoming in the very near future by striking the requirement of the payment in exchange for an agreement to place teams in the ailing lower series’.

Likely, HMS would not serve as the initial Honda team. Perhaps James Finch’s team or even JR Motorsports might field the first Hondas, like Michael Waltrip Racing did for Toyota.

However, within a year of their announcement Hendrick Motorsports might just be the team to carry Honda to NASCAR prominence in the same way Joe Gibbs racing did for Toyota.

There will not be any Hondas in NASCAR in 2010 but I would not be surprised to hear of their arrival by 2011. And I would also not be surprised to see Rick Hendrick and some of racing’s biggest stars on the stage when the announcement is made. After all, it is business and one should never say never when big money is involved.

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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8 Responses to “Junior, Gordon and Johnson driving for Honda…Never Say Never!”

  1. yankeegranny Says:
    June 29th, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Didn’t I read somewhere that the reason that JR didn’t go to Gibbs was that they were going to leave Chevy and go to Toyoto? JR was quoted to saying that he would only drive a Chevy. Or was this an April Fool type of article? I am actually waiting for Mini Cooper to come to NASCAR.

  2. Richard Allen Says:
    June 29th, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Yankeegranny,

    This is not a trick, just some thinking out loud or on the keyboard.

    There may not be any Chevy to drive in a couple of years is the problem.

  3. Overra88ted Says:
    June 29th, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Honda to HMS, yea right, LOL. Any one with half a brain can figure out that Hendrick is being position by GM to be their official na$crap supplier for Chevy. Much like the Ford model using Rousch as their official supplier for na$crap support. Just look at how SHR has leap frogged RCR.

  4. Joe W. Says:
    June 29th, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I really do not see this happening. I do not think Jr. would drive a Honda. Jimmie Johnson has always driven Chevys also. I just can’t see the Dupont Accord either. That is a sickening thought if there ever was one. As a Jeff Gordon fan I would rather see him retire than race a Honda. If this did happen it might just put Nascar and some of us older fans “out of our missery”. I am quite sure I would find something elso to do on Sunday afternoons.

  5. midasmicah Says:
    June 29th, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    If and when all the foreign cars take over nas$car they’ll have to change their name to noscar.

  6. Charles Says:
    June 29th, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    As far as Hendrick switching to Hondas, Rick Hendrick is a ‘Car Guy” and a strong Chevy man! I admire his stance on that he is partial to his brand of car!

    But in business things could change! But wasnt Honda the company that he was in trouble with and had the trial in sometime in the late ninties and he was charged with bribing a Honda employee?

    You mentioned the Richard Childress filing for payments from GM, wonder when Hendrick and Nascar will apply, looks like they are in the same situation as Childress, Nascar I think getting money from the Auto Manufacterers to enter their sport, it would be insteresting to find out how much they get plus Hendrick, I think by GM filing Bankrumpcy it is public record, Chrysler should be recorded was well!

  7. cliff Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    good article rich..i think HMS will move too honda too if GM don’t emerge from bankruptcy soon..an over88ated do you have a life?? all ya do is whine an complain about everything.. i bet ur a lonely old bastard just hating life.. rich love ya opinions and thoughts cause i think most think honda will be in the sport soon..

  8. old an tired Says:
    July 5th, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Wont be long untill nascar has it where they are all running same car anyway. Go to Hendricks Chevy and tell them you want a 2 dr impala. So what differance does it make. Put a honda, nissan, kia front bumper and stick on tail lights and go racin. If you like racin pick you a driver and pull for him or her. Picking a brand of car is a thing of the past.