Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why Rick Hendrick’s ride on the #48 after the All-Star Race was so special

After Jimmie Johnson completed some impressive burnouts following his win in the All-Star Race Saturday night, he had team owner Rick Hendrick hop up on the door and ride along for a victory lap on the frontstretch at Charlotte Motor Speedway to let fans solute possibly the greatest car owner in the history of NASCAR.
The move harkened back to days long gone by when pit crews would ride on top of a winning car as it drove to Victory Lane, and it was an awesome solute to arguably the best team owner in the history of the sport.
Yes, Hendrick Motorsports still has 68 wins to go before it catches Petty Enterprises for the most wins all time, but that number could be in reach in the next five to seven years.
In any case, Hendrick’s victory ride on the frontstretch after Saturday night’s race was a fitting tribute to a great man and a team that just won its 200th race the week before in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
All of the leaders involved in both the Southern 500 win and the All-Star Race win are going to go down in history as legends of the sport.
Hendrick will be compared to the Petty and Wood Brothers Racing organizations, crew chief Chad Knaus will be compared to Petty’s crew chief Dale Inman and Johnson will be considered at least one of the 10 best drivers in the history of the sport.
Although it is easy to hate the #48 team and Hendrick Motorsports for all of their success, please still appreciate it. They have put together arguably the best run any team has ever had in NASCAR history.
Everybody loves to think about how great the Pettys were, how great Earnhardt was and how much success Jeff Gordon had in the first half of his career. But, people also tend to forget how much they hated those drivers and teams for their success when it was happening.
Instead of waiting until the success is over, why don’t we properly appreciate the success while it happens.
It might seem impossible right now, but there will be a time when Johnson no longer consistently wins race. There also might be a time when Hendrick Motorsports no longer competes for wins week in and week out. Ask somebody in the 60’s and 70’s if Petty and the Wood Brothers would be struggling just to remain in the sport, and they likely would’ve have said you are absolutely crazy.
Sports have a way of evening out successes and failures. A great team doesn’t stay great forever. Some teams have longer runs on top than others, but success is certainly not eternal, especially in NASCAR.
Go ahead and wish for some other team to rise up and challenge for race wins and championships. But the eventually everybody will get tired of that team too and start to wish for the next team to arrive on the scene.
That is fine, but fans might be left always hoping for the next big thing and never enjoy what they see on the track in the present.
The Hall of Fame is great, but make sure to recognize Hall of Fame achievements when they happen. Hendrick Motorsports, Jimmie Johnson and the #48 team are in the midst of Hall of Fame achievements. It would be a shame to miss them.

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