NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fact or Fiction: Why Hendrick is More Dominant Than LeBron’s New Home

David Reutimann’s second win is bigger than his first
FACT

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, Fla. 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
FICTION

But while Michael Waltrip Racing is close to being a Chase contender, I just don’t see it happening this year. 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 11th, 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
FACT

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 five, 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
FACT

Jimmie Johnson seemed poised to win yet another race this weekend before a spin took him out of contention and Gordon finished third for Hendrick Motorsports, but it was another team that stole the headlines in a different sport. The Miami Heat resigned superstar Dwayne 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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