The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season has definitely been labeled as a rebuilding year for Hendrick Motorsports. Gone are veterans like Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne. In are three drivers aged 24 or younger. Neither of which have ever won a Cup race before. With Jimmie Johnson struggling on his end too, you can see where this was going for the HMS group.
But, Monday’s weather delayed Food City 500 at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway gives the storied organization some new life.
First off Jimmie Johnson scored his best finish in over 14 races. Johnson, brought his No. 48 Chevrolet home third at Bristol, his first top five finish since Dover last fall. In fact, Johnson now has two top five finishes over his last 29 Cup Series starts and since the beginning of the 2017 season, Johnson has five top five finishes in 44 races.
Not very Johnson like that’s for sure.
That’s why this was a big top five effort this weekend. It’s not like he fluked into it like all four of his top fives were last year. This finish was on legitimate pace and speed, and he had it on Monday.
Same could be said for Alex Bowman. He had the speed to finish seventh a few weeks ago on another short track at Martinsville. On Monday, he had a ton of speed in his No. 88 Chevrolet and finished a career high fifth.
Two top five finishes for HMS in one race. No one had a top five finish that stood for them all year long. Chase Elliott’s third place finish at Phoenix was taken away as part of an L-1 penalty.
Now, barring inspection, it was a great day and great step in the right direction for Hendrick as a whole.