NASCAR America: Hendrick Motorsports still has ground to make up
Hendrick Motorsports may have turned a corner with top-10 runs at Pocono Raceway last week from Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott, but they still have some ground to make up according to NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Landon Cassill.
Kligerman puts some of the blame for the lack of performance during the first half of the regular season on the Optical Scanning Station.
“Some of these teams, especially Hendrick Motorsports going to the new Chevy body, were maybe caught a little off guard with it and how they were able to maximize the things they need do in that inspection system to make sure their cars are producing the most downforce, to therefore create the most speed,” Kligerman said.
Cassill believes their biggest handicap could be a lack of experience among the current crop of drivers.
“We’ve talked about Hendrick’s struggles as a team at the beginning of the season,” Cassill said. “Well, is it driver or cars because the average age of drivers at Hendrick Motorsports this year is lower than we’ve ever seen in that organization, so they definitely have less experience, with the exception of Jimmie Johnson, than the company has ever had.”
Johnson is 42 years old, Alex Bowman is 25, Elliott is 22 and William Byron is 20, making the average age at the start of the 2018 season 27.0.
At the beginning of the 2003 season, the average age of Hendrick Motorsports drivers was 35.8 with Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Joe Nemechek and Terry Labonte behind the wheel.
In 2008, Johnson and Gordon were joined by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Casey Mears and the average age was 31.3.
Five years later in 2013, Mears was replaced with Kasey Kahne and the average age rose to 37.0.
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