It’s no secret, the last few seasons at Hendrick Motorsports have been a frustration. While they did get close to making the Championship 4 in each, they never really were a factor throughout the course of the entire season.
The organization has 252 wins in NASCAR’s premiere series, but only four over the last two seasons combined.
The problem is, HMS has been in the midst of transition. They’re virtually rebuilding. Out have been the veterans and in are youthful drivers with minimal experience.
Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne have all left HMS over the last few years. All were in their late 30’s (Kahne) or 40’s (Gordon and Earnhardt). Mix in Jimmie Johnson’s struggles with three young drivers and you get what you see out of HMS.
Johnson, enters 2019 with a new crew chief and declining stats. He hasn’t won in 59 races. He had three wins in 2017 and zero in 2018. Johnson, had four top fives in 2017 and just two in 2018. He had 11 top 10’s in each of the last two years too. On top of that, the California native led just 217 laps two years ago and only 40 last more year. For a seven time champion and the anchor of HMS now, that’s where the top problem lies. Career low seasons in each of the last two years.
Both Alex Bowman and William Byron had very little experience too. Byron, only had two full seasons in NASCAR in general under his belt before moving up to Cup in 2018. He had zero top five finishes, four top 10’s and led just 61 laps a year ago as a rookie.
Bowman, had driven for underfunded teams in the past and finally got his break. He had three top fives, 11 top 10’s and only led 71 laps himself.
In the past, those rides were Gordon and Earnhardt Jr’s. See the theme?
Chase Elliott was the lone bright spot in ending a 99 race winless streak to start his Cup career by winning at Watkins Glen. He actually won three of the final 15 races last season and enters 2019 with the most momentum.
Now that all these drivers have a year under their belt with this transition as well as a full season with the Camaro, can they get back to the old HMS dominance in 2019?