The Frontstretch: Fact or Fiction: Why Hendrick Is More Dominant Than LeBron's New Home by Mike Lovecchio -- Monday July 12, 2010

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There will be no asterisk beside this win for David Reutimann.

David Reutimann’s second win is bigger than his first

The dream of aspiring racers all over the country is to one day win at the sport’s highest level, which for many is the pinnacle of stock car racing – the Sprint Cup Series. One year ago, David Reutimann finally realized that dream with a victory at one of the series’ crown jewel events, the Coca-Cola 600, but the win came with an asterisk of sorts. Sure, it would be documented for history in the NASCAR record books, but by capturing the longest race on the schedule in a rain-shortened 227 laps, fans and perhaps even Reutimann himself discounted it as simply good fortune.

That’s why when Reutimann blew past Jeff Gordon and held off Carl Edwards Saturday night at Chicagoland, the Zephyrhills, FL native, his entire team, and enthusiastic fan base breathed a collective sigh of relief that this time he did it over the full distance, passing one of the all-time greats to do it. There is no denying now that Reutimann is a Sprint Cup race winner… and achieving his goal in lesser equipment (Hendrick, Gibbs, and Childress are far superior) makes it all the more impressive. Despite the team signing Martin Truex, Jr. in the offseason, Reutimann is still the unofficial face of Michael Waltrip Racing – as evidenced by his upcoming contract extension – and the man they call “The Franchise” competing for wins is further proof the organization is inching closer to becoming a Chase challenger…

David Reutimann will make the Chase THIS season

But while Michael Waltrip Racing is close to being a Chase contender, I just don’t see it happening this year. Martin Truex, Jr. is already out of the picture, and while Reutimann picked up win numero uno this season, he’s still 96 points out of the final Chase spot and behind the Hendrick duo of Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. One thing Reutimann has on his side, admittedly, is that the points are starting to tighten up a bit; he’s only 102 points out of eleventh, leaving several possibilities for drivers to falter if he’s successful in putting the pressure on. With just over a handful of races remaining before the Chase, though, any one of five wheelmen can get hot and get in, and for Reutimann, he can’t afford one slip. I think he’ll make one.

It’s time for Danica Patrick to decide between NASCAR and IndyCar

After another ill-fated attempt at a NASCAR Nationwide event in which Danica Patrick finished a career-high 24th, two laps down, it may be time for her to make a decision about whether to continue to run the full IndyCar schedule beyond this season or make the jump full-time to stock cars. She has yet to finish on the lead lap in any of her five Nationwide starts, and isn’t exactly setting the open-wheel road on fire, either, posting the worst average finish (11.8) since her rookie season of 2005. In nine IndyCar starts, she has four top-10 results and just one top 5, faltering to 11th in the season standings to date.

It’s been speculated on over and over this year, but to me there is an obvious correlation between those struggles in both series. It’s going to take her years to adapt to the heavier stock car – the current problems in the Nationwide Series are more so because of her lack of experience than skill – and that simply can’t happen if she remains in open-wheel. I truly do believe that Danica can succeed in both NASCAR or IndyCar – just not at the same time.

Hendrick Motorsports is more dominant than the Miami Heat

Jimmie Johnson seemed poised to win yet another race this weekend before a spin took him out of contention and Jeff Gordon finished third for Hendrick Motorsports, but it was another team that stole the headlines in a different sport. The Miami Heat resigned superstar Dwyane Wade, then added perennial All-Stars Chris Bosh and LeBron James to form the NBA’s version of a super team.

That leaves the Heat on the cusp of a potential dynasty. But even with those signings, which organization – Hendrick or Miami – has the potential for greater dominance? That’s easy. As good as the Heat may be, until they win four consecutive championships… they’re nowhere near the caliber of Hendrick Motorsports. Until they put four players (not just three) in the All-Star game… they’re not as dominant as a team that employs two four-time champions, a 40-race winner, and the sport’s Most Popular Driver. That’s right, folks; forget the Heat, sport’s current super team is coming to a track near you!

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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07/12/2010 11:36 AM

Dario Franchitti thinks Danica Patrick is making a mistake by trying to drive in IndyCar and NASCAR at the same time.

In a telephone interview from Scotland on Friday, the defending Honda Indy Toronto champion – who will be racing through the streets of the CNE and along Lake Shore Blvd. West next weekend in the 24th almost-annual event – said the differences between the cars are just too great to overcome without a total commitment.

The cars are “night and day,” he said. “Trust me. Going in either direction, there’s a lot of adjustment. It’s her decision, but I wouldn’t do it.”

Patrick is driving full-time in the Izod IndyCar Series for Andretti Autosport (she’ll be racing here next weekend, too) as well as a partial schedule in the second-tier NASCAR Nationwide Series for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team.

By trying to manhandle a 3,100-lb. enclosed stock car around a superspeedway one weekend and then finess a 1,600-lb. open-cockpit Indy car through a road course the next, she’s not enjoying a banner year in either series.

Franchitti, who won the IndyCar title in 2007 and again last year, knows of what he speaks. He spent a less-than successful season himself in NASCAR in 2008.

Said Franchitti, who really had a rough go of it, “I think the expectations (in NASCAR) were so high because of the successes I’d enjoyed in Indy car,” which included his first Indianapolis 500 victory in 2007 as well as an initial Toronto Indy win in 1999, among others. .

“I think, given time, that an Indy car driver can learn to drive a NASCAR car and vice-versa but I think you’d need a certain amount of time to do that. It doesn’t happen overnight. Ultimately, for me, everything worked out for the best. I’m definitely doing what I should be doing.”

07/12/2010 11:59 AM

Miami not as succesfull as Hendrick ? What facet of Hendrick are you talking about ? On a per car basis ( including one off rides , satellite teams , phantom teams , etc .) , Hendrick is one of the least succesfull car owners in the sports history . How many different cars has Hendrick fielded over the years vs. the winning percentage of each of them ? Do the math , it’s a pretty pathetic showing compared to many other owners who fielded FAR less cars over the course of their existence .

07/12/2010 03:43 PM

Compare Hendrick to the Lakers or Celtics. That makes more sense.

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