The Hendrick Domination: Is it Good for NASCAR?

By Ron Fleshman On Tue, Jun. 17, 2014

Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson is on his usual roll at the mid-point of the season, and with the success of other teams using Hendrick Motorsports engines and chassis, it has left the rest of the field in a tremendous funk. It also is not good for NASCAR because many fans of the sport find no fire for Johnson. Add to that his fellow competitors.

You could hear it in Greg Biffle’s voice pre-race. Something special had to happen for him to have a chance. The Hendrick Chevrolets were so far ahead that it would almost take a miracle. It didn’t and Biffle finished 18th. Post-race, it was Brad Keselowski who admitted even though he finished third he was just not competitive with the Hendrick cars. Obviously, the Hendrick teams, which include his own four teams plus Stewart-Haas’ four car team and Chip Ganassi’s two car team, are pretty much the cream of the crop this season and most of the other seasons of the decade.

Early on, it seemed that they were just as confused by NASCAR’s new rules as the rest of the field, but the win by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Daytona 500 and Kevin Harvick’s win at Phoenix the next week should have told everyone something. After Keselowski won at Las Vegas, Edwards at Bristol, and Kyle Busch at California, everyone was excited that maybe there would be a fight for the championship after all.

After Kurt Busch surprised everyone at Martinsville, Logano won Richmond and Denny Hamlin won Talladega. It looked like parity did exist, but what we didn’t see was how competitive the Hendrick cars were. It started at Kansas. Jeff Gordon won that one and at Charlotte Jamie McMurray won the All Star race and Johnson won the 600. Then Johnson went back to back at Dover and Earnhardt won at Pocono. Last week, Johnson led less than 40 laps, but had the fastest car at Michigan and won. So far, after a start where everyone was in the pool, Hendrick cars have won five consecutive races and the All Star race. So far, the score is Hendrick nine and the rest of the field six, but what is more telling is when it’s broken down by organization.

If we add HMS and Stewart Haas together, they have nine wins. Team Penske has three. Joe Gibbs Racing has two. Roush Fenway has one. Split up, Hendrick has six wins, Stewart Haas three, Team Penske has three, Joe Gibbs two, and Roush Fenway one.

There is some proof that television ratings and race attendance dropped after Johnson went on his tear in 2006. That’s probably not fair to Hendrick and Johnson, but it’s a documented fact. Johnson has won the coveted championship in six of the last eight years, amassing 51 wins and 183 top 10s. That’s an average of nearly seven wins and 23 top 10s a season. Fans of other teams probably tired of this domination just like their drivers. At the same time, Johnson is a friendly and nice guy, and Hendrick is everyone’s Daddy. It’s not their fault they have the ability to figure out the changes NASCAR makes earlier than anyone else (see Car of Tomorrow for reference).

There is some possible relief for fans of other teams coming. The drivers next head to the road course at Sonoma, Kentucky, and Daytona, three places where Johnson has not excelled, but don’t be surprised if there is a win from some of the other Hendrick aligned teams anyway. With drivers like Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, and Ryan Newman still winless, all might not make the Chase, though Kenseth seems safe on points. Don’t be surprised if winless Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne sneak in a win for total domination. My fear is that people will lose interest. Maybe they already have.

Ron Fleshman (169 Posts)

Ron Fleshman has followed NASCAR racing since attending his first race at Martinsville Speedway in 1964. He joined the Motor Sports Forum on the CompuServe network in the 1980s and became a reporter for Racing Information Systems in 1994. In 2002, he was named NASCAR Editor for RIS when it appeared on the World Wide Web as www.motorsportsforum.com. He can now be found at www.ris-news.com. Ron is a member of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. You can find Ron following and reporting on the top three NASCAR divisions each week. As a lifer in his support of racing, he attends and reports on nearly 30 events a year and as a member of the motor sports media, his passion has been racing for 47 years. He lives with his family in rural West Virginia and works in the insurance industry when not on the road to another track.


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Displaying 4 Comments
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  1. Michael says:

    Why are the ratings down?

    Its not the winning. Earnhardt and Petty won plenty. Its not the domination. Hendrick ruled much of the 90′s. Is it the crappy seating at tracks and poor fan experience? Maybe.

    The biggest reason why ratings are down and nobody watches is due to the LACK OF PERSONALITY. What made racing great in the past were the rivalries. Earnhardt wrecking Terry Labonte at Bristol. Jimmy Spencer punching Kurt Busch. A rookie Tony Stewart being escorted to the nascar hauler for anger problems. Sr. calling young Jeff Gordon “wonder boy” Fist fights on the back stretch of the Daytona 500. PASSION. There is no excitement or rivalries now. All of the drivers are cookie cutter clean. When there is no passion it truly becomes a series of left turns.

  2. jj says:

    Excuse not acceptable. Whinning continues.

  3. Ken says:

    Why Hendrick is winning is a no brainer. The one with the most money to spend on personnel and equipment wins with good management. The 4 cars per team limit was stupid and unenforceable. Everyone that runs Hendrick equipment is part of the Hendrick except on paper.

  4. jj says:

    Whine! Whine! Whine! Was Richard Petty good for NA$CAR with 200 wins and 7 championships? Was Earnhardt with his 7 championship?
    You just brought up two different points. The teams Hendrick and Hendrick engines. The teams Hendrick, for the most part, are flat out-performing the rest. Better crew chiefs, drivers, and strategies. How many of the drivers you mentioned are just second tier drivers? Some have been with teams over 10 years, and they are still whinning that their teams just haven’t got it. Biffle for instance. Tony Stewart hasn’t won and this year is rarely competitive. Is he whinning? I know you need a good story, but the facts speak for themselves.
    Now to the engines: Don’t you think that Ford and Toyota are spending millions and burning midnight oil to put out more hp? But they just aren’t there yet.
    Put better drivers and better engines on the track and they may compete someday.

    As far as “Is Hendricks bad for NA$CAR?” NO, NA$CAR is bad for NA$CAR.

    Your next article needs to be “is Kyle Busch bad for Nationwide?”

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