NASCAR’s version of the Dream Team to roll in 2008!!!

Since Dale Jr. announced that he will leave DEI in 2008 at the end of his contract the biggest question in motor sports has been who will Jr. drive for next year. The 3 front runners were Richard Childress Racing (the team his father drove for), Joe Gibbs Racing (who actually have an open spot for another Cup race team), and Hendrick Motorsports (home of my 2 favorite drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson). Up till recently Hendrick Motorsports didn't seem to be a likely new home for Dale Jr. as they already have 4 drivers in the Cup Series (the new rules will limit a team owner to 4 cars max in the Cup Series) all of which have contracts that go beyond this season. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson aren't going anywhere, Casey Mears just joined the team this season, and Kyle Busch has been doing well for the most part with race wins and currently within the top 12 and likely to make the Chase again this year.

The news I heard today surprised me in the best of ways!!! You probably can't imagine how happy I am to hear that Dale Jr. will sign with Hendrick Motorsports next season! So who's the odd man out? It appears that Kyle Busch will leave Hendrick after this season. One has to speculate if this is his decision entirely or if there's more going on here. This is really an abrupt development and I find it hard to imagine that Kyle Busch would want to leave one of the top organizations in the sport especially with the year that Hendrick Motorsports is currently having. They've won 10 out of the 14 races so far this season in the Cup Series. To call this domination is almost an understatement. There was an incident at Texas Motor Speedway this past April where Busch's team was upset when Busch left the track while his car was being repaired after a wreck. When repairs were completed Busch was no where to be found and his team decided to ask Dale Jr. who's car was retired to drive Busch's #5 Chevrolet for the remainder of the race in order to pick up precious points. It's ironic when you see what has transpired as Dale Jr. is joining Hendrick Motorsports and will likely be driving the #5 Chevrolet. Budweiser will likely not follow Jr. in the move as they are still under contract with DEI and it is yet to be seen who will be the primary sponsor for the sports most popular driver. Kellogg's has long been a primary sponsor for Hendrick Motorsports and its quite possible that Dale Jr. will drive the Kellogg's #5 Chevrolet. Going from beer to cereal! Heheh! From a sea of red in the stands to a sea of blue. What a sight that would be! Visa has also been mentioned as a possible new sponsor that may sign on with Jr.'s new ride. It'll be interesting to see what transpires.

Now I'm trying to picture this. Jeff Gordon (4 championships), Jimmie Johnson (reigning Cup champion), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR's most popular driver by far), and Casey Mears (a promising driver with great talent who just won his first Cup race this season). It truly is a Dream Team! Hendrick Motorsports has arguably the best equipment, the best employees, and next season will have 3 of the best drivers in the sport. I never imagined that something like this could ever be possible. If someone was choosing a fantasy team these 3 drivers would be right there at the top of the list. For most I'd imagine. This is amazing! Hendrick Motorsports will have this dream lineup next season! Someone pinch me so that I know that I'm not dreaming. 🙂

Dale Jr. will hold a press conference tomorrow at Jr. Motorsports in North Carolina where he will announce his decision to sign with Hendrick Motorsports. 

On a final note it'll also be interesting to see how Dale Jr.'s large fan base reacts to this announcement. To put this into perspective, fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. as well as fans of his father the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. for the most part consider Hendrick Motorsports and especially Jeff Gordon to be the "enemy" for lack of a better term. Did Gordon have too much success too soon? He's a great guy on and off of the track so it really puzzles me. These are the fans that shower Jeff Gordon with rubbish and beer bottles whenever he wins a race and cheer whenever he gets wrecked. Interestingly Dale Earnhardt Sr. was really good friends with Jeff Gordon and they shared a mutual respect on the track. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also gets along with Jeff Gordon so the fan's reactions will be very interesting to see. Will they warm up to Gordon a bit since Jr. will now be his teammate or will none of that change. And will they all remain loyal to Dale Jr.? Only time will tell and I'm going to be watching very closely. 🙂

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About MorningBerryz

Lover and free spirit who's interests in Japanese culture and the like are insatiable. I am of pure Japanese/Okinawan descent, love my cats, sleep and am a bit naughty at times :).
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4 Responses to NASCAR’s version of the Dream Team to roll in 2008!!!

  1. Saburo says:

    Again, PTI reported this on Wednesday and now I have some perspective. Couple things:
    — Are there any NASCAR fans/bloggers out there countering the conventional wisdom that this superstar dominance will enhance the sport and not turn off novices? Is this win-win for all parties involved?
    — The odd man out, Busch: did he jump or was he pushed? What advantages does he gain by leaving such a lucrative position?


  2. minimoniotaku it was interesting when Rick Hendrick himself was asked about this reference in an interview. While it's flattering to hear such a comparison in regards to how much talent is going to be on this team next season (there's actually a lot of talent at Hendrick Motorsports right now) Hendrick said that's where the comparisons end as "Hendrick Motorsports was not built on free agency." I Couldn't agree with him more. Dale Jr. expressed how he wants to win now and contend for a championship and this is where he felt would be the best place for him and the most comfortable. I'm very happy that he's joining the team! 🙂


  3. Saburo this news was so big that even PTI had to cover it and while Tony and Mike don't even watch NASCAR it's ironic that you're getting perspective on this subject from them. This really goes to show what a great team the 2 of them are as they can cover any news story sports or otherwise no matter what it is and present them in an intelligent and insightful manner. Definitely one of the best shows on ESPN.While there may be some sour grapes out there. As well as some unhappy Dale Jr. fans but this is definitely a win win situation no matter how you look at it. Just look at the publicity that this story is creating. Even PTI had to cover it. Hendrick Motorsports is already a powerhouse team right now and has been for a very long time. They've won 10 of the 14 races so far this season and Jr. hasn't even arrived yet. The addition of Jr. will only enhance interest in the sport. He's putting himself into a hot spot with this new ride. With equipment and horsepower no longer being issues when he's with Hendrick Motorsports Jr. is set to prove to everyone fan or not what kind of race car driver he really is. He's already talked about this in an interview and stated that he's ready to face this challenge. Talk about a hot seat. He's going to be sitting in one next season and the 4 after that with this contract signing. All eyes will be on him to see how he performs with his new team. This is just another aspect that will garner more interest in the sport. NASCAR is already the #1 spectator sport in America with the highest attendance of any sport here while the NFL is #1 rated in the t.v. standings. I'd imagine that this can only help to close the t.v. viewer stat a bit. As far as the novices that aren't familiar with the sport this powerhouse team might make for an attraction for them to start watching and dare I say become fans. And when it comes to the competition on the track. When Roush Racing held 5 of the 10 Chase spots when this new playoff format was introduced in the Cup series I didn't hear about any other teams complaining. It's as simple as, they're good. If the subject of envy is brought up then I'm sure there's going to be a lot of that but it's a well known fact that Hendrick Motorsports is one of if not the best place to work in the NASCAR series. They have remarkably low turnover and one of the best R & D teams out there. Happy employees build awesome race cars. Rick Hendrick is known to take care of his employees and over the years that's really paid off with championships and many race wins and of course the great talent that they've acquired in the shop, at the garage, in the pits, on the pit box, and on the race track. In regards to Kyle Busch's situation. Both he and Rick Hendrick acknowledged that they've been working on a contract extension since last season long before any talk of Jr. leaving DEI surfaced. After extensive negotiations they both have agreed that it will be time to move on after the end of this season. As far as being pushed we'll never know the entire truth to that but with their long running negotiations never panning out it seems that it is his choice to make. While Kyle Busch is a really talented and promising driver I'm not sure if he can do better than what he has now. On the other hand there will be many opportunities for him out there as he's already being sought after and perhaps if put into the right situation with the right team Kyle Busch will excel and actually have better results than he is currently having with Hendrick Motorsports. If you ask me though I wouldn't want to leave his current place in Hendrick Motorsports. Every driver has different needs and maybe a more suitable situation will arise for him with a new team and organization. Only time will tell that as well as how successful Jr. is with his new home next season. 🙂


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