Teamwork helping preparation for final pre-Chase stretch
By Gray Caldwell
CONCORD, N.C.— With four races remaining until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Hendrick Motorsports is dialed in.
“The thing that I love about Hendrick Motorsports and the way our teams are situated and how they work together is that we’re constantly battling against one another from a competitive standpoint, but we’re working together as a team as well," Jeff Gordon said earlier this month. "It just elevates the whole organization. So, when one team starts to do something well, we can lean on that information and hopefully see the results as well."
Those results speak for themselves in 2014, as Hendrick Motorsports drivers have combined for eight wins to this point of the season.
Those wins helped Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. secure their places in NASCAR's postseason, provided they qualify for the next five races. And Kasey Kahne believes the final stretch of the season provides a great chance to cement his spot as well.
"Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta, Richmond—all those tracks we have won at and ran really well at," Kahne said earlier this month. "I look forward to each one of those and feel like we can definitely still make the Chase."
"We could have the season we have had and make it at Richmond and then make a run for the championship. That is just my opinion, but that is the way that I look at things," he continued. "It could change at any time and you could really get on a roll and be as good as anyone in the sport.”
Johnson, meanwhile, hopes to get on a roll of his own.
In the past five races, the No. 48 Chevrolet SS hasn't finished better than 14th position. But Johnson's three wins have him in good standing when the Chase begins.
"It’s no secret that the middle portion of the year has always been a challenge for the No. 48," he said earlier this month. "There have been years that we make it through a little smoother than others. This year has been as inconsistent as probably any of them for us."
Still, he feels that a good stretch is coming for the No. 48 team.
"There are still a few challenges ahead," he continued. "But literally, when the Chase starts, we roll into our 10 best tracks."
Gordon and Earnhardt both feel good about where they stand with five races remaining before the Chase.
Gordon said after his Indianapolis win that the No. 24 team believes it has a shot at a championship, and Earnhardt acknowledged that the No. 88 team is proud and confident based on this season’s results—including a sweep of Pocono.
But both cautioned that none of the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers want to think too far ahead.
"You've really got to approach it one day at a time to be able to do it right, and do it well," Earnhardt said.
Then, when the Chase starts?
“Go as hard as you can,” Gordon said, “and try to win.”