By Shaun Burke
For the first time since 2001, Hendrick Motorsports only had one of its drivers win a race in the Sprint Cup series. At the beginning of 2011, Hendrick Motorsports made a change to the teams of Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin in order to remedy to problem.
The results were immediate as all the Hedrick cars were competitive at Daytona. The next week, Jeff Gordon got back to Victory Lane for the first time since early in 2009. Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. appears to be as close to Victory Lane as he has been in many years.
One glaring problem, however, is the struggles Jeff Gordon has had at the 1.5 mile tracks. “Grading the team and grading our performance is two different things.” Says Gordon, “I think our team gets an A. We showed that at Phoenix…but our 1.5-mile program is definitely not where it needs to be.”
Gordon isn’t kidding. After seven races this season, Gordon has two top 5 finishes and four finishes of worse than fifteenth. In fact, at the down force type tracks, Gordon’s best finish is eighteenth at Fontana.
Gordon says, however “We’re really far off and that’s the beauty of the Chase. Because of the chase format, you can be off at this point as long as you find it by the summer. We have until the summer to find what our issues are. I wish we had another 1.5-mile next week. We have to get it figured out and the only way you can get it figured out is if you go and try things.”
Gordon has no doubts that his team will find what it is looking for and will contend by the time the summer is over. “Alan is awesome.” Says Gordon, “His group of engineers is amazing and that’s what gives me confidence that we’re going to work through it.”
Gordon has confidence in his team and his crew. He is confident that his team will figured out what it needs to keep him running up front.