(MAIN) Elliott Sadler’s
Chevrolet Impala leads
the field at Bristol’s
Series race – one of
four he’d win during
2012. (ABOVE LEFT)
Sadler’s 2012 form
played a big part in
Chevrolet’s push to
by rising stars such as
Austin Dillon (LEFT).
In a season when he
also won two Truck
Series races, Brazil’s
Nelson Piquet Jr.
made Chevy top dog
at the Elkhart Lake
road course (ABOVE).
numbers are,” says Suhy. “So if they see
numbers above or below them in a
particular area, they know that they’re
better than others, or have work to do.”
“It gives you an understanding of how you
stack up against your peers,” says Duchardt.
“We don’t really know who specifically ran
what, but we know in a big sample size
where we stack up. That’s beneficial to
know if you’re out in the weeds or not and
it also helps Chevrolet know where their
cars are from a trend standpoint.”
Chevy also provides access to a whole
host of resources and tech, from the
ability to test at proving grounds in
Yuma, Ariz., and Northern Michigan, to
computer simulation tools and hardware
such as seven-post and pull-down rigs. It
also provides engineering help during the
week and an IT expert on race weekends.
What they don’t share is chassis
setups. Those are proprietary to each
Seven months between Sprint Cup race wins is an
eternity for NASCAR powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports.
But that’s how long it took before the counter clicked
from 199 (Jimmie Johnson at Kansas Speedway,
Oct. 9, 2011) to the magic 200 (Johnson again, at
storied Darlington Speedway, May 12, 2012, RIGHT).
After that, business as usual as the floodgates
opened and Hendrick drivers took another nine wins
to close out 2012 – four more for Johnson, two apiece
for Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne, and a popular return
to Victory Lane for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Michigan
Speedway in June, ending a 143-race losing streak.
Every single one of Hendrick Motorsports’ 209 Cup
wins has been achieved with Chevrolet. And those
victories have helped take Hendrick drivers to 10
championships – five consecutive for Johnson from
2006-’ 10, four for Gordon and one for Terry Labonte.
Since Geoff Bodine took the first Hendrick win, at
Martinsville, April 29, 1984, 16 different drivers have
HENDRICK’S 200 AND COUNTING
won for the team (eight taking their first career Cup
wins) and eight seasons have seen double-digit
victory totals, the most being 18 in 2007,
Amazingly, just two drivers – Gordon and
Johnson, with 87 and 60 wins, respectively –
account for 70 percent of Hendrick’s win total.
And it’s safe to assume they’re not done yet...