“I think after we left homestead, I think Jimmie, Jeff and I had this conversation – we wished we had a race the next week,” Rick Hendrick said. “We had a lot of momentum there.”
Coming off the final race of 2012, Rick Hendrick found one of his drivers in victory lane – Jeff Gordon – while Jimmie Johnson had lost the championship. However, momentum was on their side as they were all running strong. It’s no doubt after having a season with all four drivers in the Chase and ending off strong that Hendrick is ready for this year’s Daytona 500.
“We are excited about this,” he continued. “Excited about the new car. There’s a lot of anticipation to get this season started, and I think I can speak for all four drivers when I say they’re ready to get to Daytona.”
With the success and momentum that they had last year, as well as off-season preparation with the car, Hendrick is more confident going into this year than he was last year.
“We had the momentum at the end of the year,” Hendrick said. “We came up short in the Chase, but I am excited about this year and having a shot to win the championship with four drivers.”
A key point he brought up was this marks Kasey Kahne’s second season at Hendrick Motorsports with crew chief Kenny Francis. Last year, Kahne got off to a rocky start, though found his groove mid-season and was able to make the Chase, finishing fourth in points. Hendrick noted that having Kahne and Francis there helped the organization with the input they offered last season.
“They helped us a lot with the changes that we’ve made to the cars,” Hendrick commented.
Combining that with Johnson’s strong year to finishing third in points, Gordon winning the final race and Earnhardt Jr. getting stronger with crew chief Steve LeTarte, it is no surprise that the confidence is high.
Though even though the confidence is high, some people thought it may be dampened with the new car. However, Hendrick feels confident as each of his drivers said they were more comfortable in the cars out of the box and feels that they are prepared as they can be.
“We worked on the pit crews,” Hendrick said. “We looked at everything that could make our teams better and worked at it. We’re prepared as we can be and we just got to go out and race the competition and see where we end up.”
Just like every team, there is no way to tell till we get to Daytona and everybody gets on track. At that point, it will be about making the adjustments that they can make and making the right tweaks.