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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Appeal Turns Hendrick Week From Bad To Good

Although prospects for Hendrick Motorsports is always good at Bristol Motor Speedway, especially with 5 time Bristol winner, Jeff Gordon, Hendrick luck went downhill as the race went along last weekend.  First, early in the race, Kasey Kahne was knocked out of contention in a pile up in the top ten.  Then later in the race, Gordon's left rear tire was cut down after minor contact from Dale Earnhardt Jr., a teammate, no less.  Then to top things off, as Dale Jr. was running at the back of the top 5 and looking for a possible top 3, the 88 team received a speeding violation which dropped them to a 15th place finish for the day.

Johnson, the only Hendrick car to finish in the top 10 (9th), salvaged his day after early damage from the Kahne wreck by slowly taking what he could get.  After a few weeks of fines, points taken away, crew chief suspension and on track troubles, Johnson was probably glad to post a top 10 and go home.  With one more opportunity for appeal to the judgement NASCAR handed down for their Daytona violation, off track preparation to get the 48 back on track to compete for a 6th Sprint Cup was, no doubt, in high gear.

Well, thanks to the appeal judgement by John Middlebrook, Johnson will not have to go 6 races without crew chief Chad Knaus.  Although he and car chief Ron Malec will face a probationary period, their track privileges will remain in tact for now.  Johnson will also regain the 25 championship points that were taken after Daytona, which, along with his 9th place finish on Sunday, will bring him to 12th in the early season standings. 

Although a lack of wins for the Hendrick stable just four races into the 2012 season is hardly a reason for concern, with much invested over the off season into each of the teams, some dividends are probably expected soon.  Most people probably did not expect the new 5 team of Kahne and Francis to exit the gate with wins, but becoming the weekly appointment for the first caution flag has to be aggravating.  Also, some results from the 24, which started 2011 hot, and the 88 that many people feel is getting close, will be expected soon, especially with Martinsville and Texas just around the corner.

For now, the Hendrick family will have to be happy knowing that everyone will be packing to go to California for this weekend.
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