Thursday, March 29, 2012

Earnhardt Poised To Earn Hendrick's 200th Win

Hendrick Motorsports is just one checkered flag away from its 200th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Martinsville Speedway could be the place, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. may be the man. 

Can Junior win at Martinsville?
Why Earnhardt, you ask, when Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon own a combined 13 victories on the legendary Virginia short track? Gordon has seven Martinsville grandfather clocks to toll the hour, while Johnson is close behind with six. Earnhardt, meanwhile, is winless in 24 career Martinsville starts. 

It’s all about momentum and timing. 

The Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet driver has been a force to be reckoned with in his last three outings on the half-mile Martinsville oval, with finishes of seventh, second and seventh. Since joining Hendrick Motorsports at the start of the 2008 season, he has finished in the Top-8 six times in eight Martinsville starts, contending for the win virtually every time.

He is off to the strongest start in his 13-year Sprint Cup career, ranking third in championship points with a pair of Top-5 and three Top-10 finishes to date. He and crew chief Steve Letarte are talking openly about the confidence they have in each other, and seem to be communicating on a higher, calmer, more professional level than ever before. 

Hendrick is one win away from history.
There’s plenty of history – both good and bad – for Hendrick Motorsports at Martinsville. The team claimed its first NASCAR Winston Cup Series win there in 1984; a victory by Geoff Bodine that allowed team owner Rick Hendrick to sign a sponsor and keep his then-fledgling operation afloat. Since then, they’ve won more races at the Virginia oval than any other team; their 18 checkered flags now just one shy of Petty Enterprises for the most Martinsville triumphs, all-time. 

Martinsville has also been the site of great tragedy for the team. In 2004, team owner Rick Hendrick lost his son Ricky, his brother John, two nieces and six other employees in the crash of a company plane that was en route to the speedway. The blow was staggering in a personal sense, but the team never faltered. Jimmie Johnson won the race that day and drove to a Victory Lane drenched with tears instead of champagne. 

Today, Hendrick Motorsports is on the brink of becoming the most successful operation in the history of Martinsville Speedway. Earnhardt is poised to put his personal, 134-race winless streak out of its misery for good.

Why not kill two birds with one stone?


  1. I love the pairing of him and Steve Letarte! They are doing great and it would be awesome if they could get the 200th win for HMS. I can tell a change in Jr since Steve came on board as his crew chief and I hope they rock the socks off the field this year!

  2. Could you imagine...

  3. Anonymous4:20 PM

    I hope he just wins this year! I keep hearing that Dale jr has a hard time telling Steve what the car is doing? Somehow I cant believe this? He is sitting in a good spot early in the year so lets hope he can continue!