Archive for Jeff Gordon

NASCAR: A non-Hollywood ending for Junior

Posted in Blog, NASCAR with tags , , , , , on February 21, 2010 by Martin Henderson

On the heels of his second-place finish at the Daytona 500, fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr., had to be feeling pretty good about their hero. This is the year that Junior feeds their need for greatness. The problem, of course, is that Daytona is followed by a race at Auto Club Speedway, and the California track might as well be composed of radiation for NASCAR’s favorite driver.

If you would like to read racescribe author Martin Henderson’s story for ESPNLosAngeles.com about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s difficult day, click here.

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NASCAR: Colombian Comet is bleepin’ brilliant

Posted in Column, NASCAR with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2009 by Martin Henderson

If you’ve ever heard Juan Pablo Montoya unleash a barrage of expletives after missing a shot on the golf course — a shot on the miniature golf course somewhere between the castle and windmill with his young children in tow — you’d realize just how intensely competitive he is.

There are those who live for winning, but Gordon Gekko has nothing on Montoya, NASCAR’s best story of the season for the last two months.

No one except the foolish would have expected Montoya to ace stock car racing in his third season, especially with an outfit like Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Imagine, two irrelevent programs combining forces to give Teresa Earnhardt, Chip Ganassi and Sabates the opportunity to play for a championship. Not even Dale Earnhardt would have spotted that one coming. Not this soon.

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NASCAR: Kyle is the pile driver in Chase

Posted in Column, NASCAR with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2009 by Martin Henderson

Kyle Busch was starting to wear a little thin, so maybe he got the comeuppance he deserved by not qualifying for The Chase.

Maybe it was noteworthy that he missed by only eight points, that he came so tantalizingly close, because he acted this season as though victory was his divine right. It might have been easy to feel a little empathy for him if the most dangerous man in the Chase hadn’t been so darn arrogant.

There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Maybe Busch ought to study Juan Pablo Montoya to get a feel for how it’s done.

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NASCAR: Time for Junior’s defining moment

Posted in Column, NASCAR with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2009 by Martin Henderson

He’s the most popular driver in America, and right now, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is the most overrated.

He is in the worst slump of his career. He moved to the best team in NASCAR and has won once — the same number of victories as David Reutimann running for a team that isn’t one of the super teams, or Brad Keselowski running for an independent, for gosh sakes.

In other words, Dale Jr. is just a guy. Because of his extraordinary popularity, he might as well be Anna Kournikova. Or Danica Patrick.

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NASCAR: Stewart-Haas a surprise at every turn

Posted in Column, NASCAR with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2009 by Martin Henderson

I scribbled these words onto a notepad more than a month ago.

The biggest surprise of the 2009 NASCAR season?

Tony Stewart.

And Ryan Newman.

Stewart-Haas Racing.

Not necessarily in that order.

Newman had finished third and Stewart 23rd at Talladega. “Nine races into the season after having taken on the project that was Haas CNC Racing, both Stewart and Newman are surprisingly competitive.” Those words were written back then, too. Stewart was fourth in the standings, and Newman 13th.

Why so much attention to something written but never printed? Because the Stewart-Haas Racing saga was important — not to mention surprising — even before the rest of the country dialed in and Racescribe had a chance to transcribe his notes.

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IRL: A step behind, but Americans stepping up

Posted in Column, IRL with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2009 by Martin Henderson

St. Louis may be the gateway to the west, but Kansas Speedway is the gateway to the Indianapolis 500. It might also have been the first step toward a legitimate resurgence among American open wheel drivers.

Two weeks ago, Scott Dixon finally got off the schneid, Helio Castroneves showed he’s in midseason form, and Tony Kanaan proved once again he is as reliable as ever. But perhaps the most notable thing to emerge from the heavy skies outside Kansas City in the IndyCar Series Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 is what took place behind them.

Danica Patrick, 27, Marco Andretti, 22, and Graham Rahal, 20 — three Americans — finished 5-6-7 in the running order. That’s about as good as can be expected as they catch up to the aforementioned, as well as Dario Franchitti. That Franchitti was the only sure thing to not finish the race, it turned out to be a banner day for the red, white and blue.

That’s right, Americans.

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NASCAR: Martin makes statement about Junior

Posted in Blog, NASCAR with tags , , , , , on April 26, 2009 by Martin Henderson

Much was made last week when Mark Martin became the third-oldest winner of a NASCAR race after winning at Phoenix. Don’t know why, since everyone knows he is enormously talented and the consummate professional. If anything, maybe Martin has been too respectful on the track,  unwilling to bump someone out of the way to win a race. But that’s the way he races, and that’s another story.

Martin’s victory came in only his eighth race since joining Hendrick Motorsports. By comparison, Dale Earnhardt Jr., won in his 15th race after joining owner Rick Hendrick’s team, his only victory through 44 races heading into Talladega. By comparison, it took Jimmie Johnson 13 races overall, 10 in his first full season (2002) when he won three times.

Should also point out that Martin, despite beginning this season with consecutive finishes of 16th, 40th, 40th and 31st, is now  only nine points out of the top 12 (which is led by Hendrick teammates Jeff Gordon and Johnson). Martin is 94 points ahead of 19th place Junior in the championship.

Which, of course, means that Junior is definitively the No. 4 driver in Hendrick stable.

No question Junior is a good driver. But he’s the No. 4 driver on that team.

In case anyone was wondering.