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Hendrick Motorsports Seeking Rebound Performance at Loudon

Hendrick Motorsports Seeking Rebound Performance at Loudon

by September 20, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images

LOUDON, N.H. — Chicagoland Speedway didn’t provide the Hendrick Motorsports stable with the overall performance they may have been wishing for to kick off their Chase.

Jeff Gordon would be the only highlight for the Hendrick quartet in the MyAFibStory.com 400 with a solid second-place finish that included leading nearly a tenth of the race with a total of 26 laps spent up front.

Teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, and Kasey Kahne would have relatively quiet performances compared to their runs leading up to the Chase.

The drivers of the No. 88, No. 48, and No. 5 Chevrolets would each finish outside of the top-10 with respective finishes of 11th, 12th, and 13th and would combine to spend a total of zero laps in the lead.

For a team that has been the dominant team throughout the season, the team’s overall performance at Chicagoland was rather underwhelming. In comparison, Team Penske, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Stewart-Haas Racing were able to have a great day at Chicagoland with all of their Chase drivers finishing in the top-10.

Entering this weekend’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Kahne has his feet just above the Contender Round cut-off line with him being six points to the good. Earnhardt and Johnson’s present positions in the Chase are aided by their high seedings entering Chicagoland as Earnhardt is safe by 14 points and Johnson by 13.

Johnson’s 12th-place finish in the Chase opener at Chicagoland was rather uncharacteristic of the six-time champion driver. Sunday’s result marked the fourth time in Johnson’s career where he finished worse than 10th in the opening round of the Chase.

With this year being the debut of the Chase’s new format, a slow start to the Chase this year increases the peril for a driver’s chances in advancing to the next round of the Chase. Despite having two races to go until the cutoff, Johnson believes that he has plenty of time to pick up his performances.

“As the No. 48, and in the culture of Hendrick Motorsports, we expect a lot of ourselves, let alone what any outside pressure would be,” Johnson said in a press conference. “And we’re not where we want to be. But again, with this format of the Chase, there’s time.

“In some respects, it could be a little bit more forgiving for you, where the gross points total doesn’t determine the champion at the end of the year. So, we’re going to play the game that’s ahead and get the best we can and hopefully heat up as this Chase wears on.”

Loudon should provide the team with a great opportunity to bounce back and put themselves in a good position heading to Dover. All four Hendrick drivers have performed well at the track in the past with all four drivers have consistent histories behind them at Loudon – including Johnson, Gordon, and Kahne combining for seven wins at the circuit.

Perhaps Chicagoland can be viewed as just an anomaly for the Hendrick stable. Top-13 runs may work for the regular season to get into the Chase, however, those sort of runs just won’t do within the Chase.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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