NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Wednesday June 13, 2007
Rick Freakin' Hendrick. Can you believe this guy? Not only does he have a Top 10 all-time driver in Jeff Gordon wrapped up to a lifetime contract, he goes and inks a Top 5, all-time Most Popular Driver of NASCAR to a five-year deal. In the prime of his career, no less!
Mr. Hendrick, if you did not already, you now have a license to print your own currency. Congrats.
Yes, Hendrick Motorsports is on top of the NASCAR mountain, and a quick look at the next few years show it could take up residence on the summit for awhile.
Four-time champ Gordon has a lifetime deal with the organization, and DuPont is on board until 2009, as is Jimmie Johnson, ace-wrench turner Chad Knaus, and Lowe's. Everyone's best buddy, Casey Mears, was the new kid in town till Junior inked his contract; fresh off his first Cup win, he seems to fit right in and is signed on for another two seasons. And of course, there's Earnhardt, who at the height of his on-track and money-making abilities signs a five-year deal that will ensure he has optimal equipment in what should be the most bountiful period of his career.
Love him or hate him, you can’t do anything but credit Rick Hendrick for transforming a small, one-car team dubbed All-Star Racing in 1984 into the true All-Star lineup Hendrick Motorsports has now become. Nine NASCAR titles; second only to Petty Enterprises in all-time victories; six Daytona 500 wins. It’s a Hall of Fame resume already for a car owner that knows full well how to get the job done.
And he just reloaded.
On to some questions. Remember to give me a shout with your queries, comments, gripes and griefs. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Is Kyle Busch really that "in demand?" As a car owner, I wouldn't want to put up with his attitude. If he goes to “T.E.I.”, Mother Teresa will realize that life with Junior wasn't so bad after all. â€” Matt H.
A: Well, he has talent, Matt, and often times just possessing that natural skill trumps attitude. Besides, most car owners would rather cool a guy off than be forced to light a fire under his backside.
In short, yeah, he'll be in demand. Namely Ginn Racing and, of course, D.E.I.
Q: Hey Matt. If all these rumors are true and Dale Jr. goes to Hendrick, do you think we could see it happen before this year is up? Also, do you think Bud and the No. 8 will go with him? â€” Chloe81
A: Obviously, this question came early in the week because I happened to catch something yesterday about Junior actually signing with Hendrick. Anyway, I do not think this will happen before the year is up because of the questions still surrounding sponsorship, car numbers, and owner points for '08. Too many fluctuating circumstances here to just get up and move on in the midst of a Chase hunt.
I do, however, believe Budweiser will come to HMS. Bud sponsored a Hendrick car from 1995-'99, and I see no way they can let anyone outbid them now that their boy is heading to an organization they are somewhat familiar with. Besides, Budweiser being partnered with Hendrick is almost as profitable as being partnered with Junior. As for the number, let’s just say Junior and Hendrick sounded in the press conference like they were very, very interested in trying to obtain it from D.E.I.
Q: The last of the good ol' boys has gone corporate. I guess we will see Dale Jr. in dress shirts and speaking the King's English. I can understand wanting to win championships and that the Hendrick operation is on top at the moment, but wouldn't he stand just as good a chance in a Childress car? â€” Alex C.
A: In a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, Hendrick has won 10 of 14 races and is the current titleholder. Junior, it seems, feels comfortable with him and the company, and he doesn't have to face the pressure every week to be his father in a black RCR Chevy. I think Childress realizes that, too.
Q: How in the hell does Jimmie Johnson blow a tire, shoot rubber and God knows what other kind of debris all over the track for a lap, and NASCAR not call a caution?! Robby Gordon did the same exact thing and they called one!!! I'm at the end of my rope with NASCAR. Call a race with consistency! â€” Tim P.
A: Beats me. We discussed this in Mirror Driving this week and, quite honestly, got nowhere. Shades of Daytona: Bend the rules to fit. They've been doing it since 1949â€¦ Why stop now?
Q: Kudos to Dale Earnhardt Jr. for going with Hendrick. He wants to win titles and that's the place to do it. I'm no Hendrick, Gordon, or Johnson fan, but I know a winner when I see one. â€” BudMan
A: Love the decision or hate it, you have to admire Earnhardt’s desire to win… and win now. And it's hard to argue that he won't with the sport's premier outfit.
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