Hendrick Garage: Bristol Recap

Welcome to "The World’s Fastest Half Mile." A lot of things can happen when you put 43 cars on such a small track. Tempers tend to flare here in Bristol, but one thing is for sure: when it’s all said and done, this track is great for racing. For the Hendrick drivers, qualifying went pretty well; this sure would be a good race for the the four teams in the Hendrick stable.

Jeff Gordon
Jeff had a very up and down day in Bristol. His day started out in the front, qualifying the Pepsi Max Chevy in 7th, but sadly as the race progressed Gordon moved out of the top 10. Midway through the race Jeff and Brad Keselowski made contact; Jeff later said Keselowski door-slammed him. Crew chief Alan Gustafson had to work on Jeff’s car to get it fixed up; however, that was easier said than done. Even after the many pit stops, Jeff still complained that the car was going backwards. Jeff ended up finishing 14th and he’s currently 19th in points.

Mark Martin
Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
To be honest Mark Martin's day wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great; he really didn’t have too many issues with the set-up of his #5 GoDaddy.com Chevy. Martin, who had the fastest car in the last practice session, had one mishap with Kevin Harvick on lap 436, but other than that he had a good day. Mark Martin finished 12th and is currently 11th in points.

Dale Junior
Starting from the 22nd position could have been bad, but the 88 driver proved he could drive the car to the front. All race long Junior complained of being tight and having no grip, which caused a lot of issues for the driver and pit crew. Steve Letarte was set to have a busy day with his driver, that’s for sure, trying everything he could to get the car handling better.

At one point during the race Earnhardt went one lap down, but got back on the lead lap when Robby Gordon brought out a caution. Later the team earned a pit road speeding penalty for entering too fast; however, thanks to great work by Steve Letarte, the 88 was suddenly charging fast and able to rebound. The day would end with Junior finishing 11th and he is now 9th in points.

After the race Earnhardt Jr. said, "We didn't have a very good car when the race started. Steve and the whole team has made the car better every day, every race."

Side note: Earnhardt Jr. also raced in Saturday's Nationwide Series event, where he finished 3rd after coming back from being two laps down.

Jimmie Johnson
Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson had a great day. Starting 6th, the 48 car was strong and led the most laps Sunday. It looked like Johnson would walk away with his second career victory at the Tennessee track. But during the second to last caution, Johnson lost the lead in the pits when one of his crew slipped. Johnson still had a shot to win, but Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards wouldn't let him take the trophy without a fight. It was great to see a 3-car battle between Johnson, Edwards and Kyle Busch in the closing laps. Johnson would close the day off in 3rd and is now 7th in points.

Kyle Busch went on to win the race taking the double Bristol win.

I close with a quote from Jimmie Johnson,
“Certainly a solid performance for us. I felt like coming off pit road in fourth with only 40, 50 to go, the guys I was racing with, I knew it was going to be tough to get back to the front. I think we had a slip on the rear tire changer coming around the back of the car. Amazing, one little slip on pit road what it equals on the racetrack. Great performance, qualified well, raced well. Very proud of the team. Glad to be climbing up in the points.”
Hendrick Garage: Bristol Recap Hendrick Garage: Bristol Recap Reviewed by Lacy Page on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 Rating: 5