Hendrick Motorsports and Their "Off Team" Through the Years 2003-2010
By Johnathan Fjeld
TheRacingExperts.com Lead Reporter
Ever since I started watching NASCAR full-time in 2003, I've noticed something
about my favorite team, Hendrick Motorsports. That thing is that, they've had an
"off team" since '03. Don't believe me? Let me show you some statistics to prove
First off let's start with '03 and the off team that year:
Joe Nemechek, driving the #25 Delphi Chevy, won a race at Richmond that year.
The rest of the year, however, didn't go as Joe probably wanted it to. Including a
fiery crash at Dover in the Fall. He would finish 25th in points with 6 top 10s only.
Well this was certainly the year of Hendrick as Jeff Gordon was regular series champ,
but once again one of his teammates' plans didn't work out. There were two "off
teams" that year, but one team was just a tick better. The 25 team of Brian Vickers, a
rookie, finished 25th in final points while his teammate Terry Labonte finished 26th,
but had two more top 10s than Vickers, with 6. That makes Vickers, the off team.
Gordon misses Chase, Johnson loses championship because of a blown tire. What
a year at Hendrick! Here's how it went down as far as the off team: Kyle Busch in his
1st year in Cup, wins 2 races, 13 top 10s, and 9 top 5s. Sounds like a good team? Not
really. His teammate, Brian Vickers, beat him in points, despite less top 10s, less top 5s,
and no wins. Kyle Busch is the off team.
Johnson clinches 1st championship and 1st Daytona 500, Busch makes Chase for
1st time in 2nd year. Here's how the off team battle went: It was not a battle. Brian Vickers
had a not-so-bad year but is in the mix for the off-team, 3 seasons in a row. Who won the
off team championship this year. Obviously it was Vickers in the 25 team again.
Vickers leaves Hendrick to go to TRB. Kyle Busch wins 1st C.O.T. race at Bristol.
Gordon wins regular season championship. Jimmie Johnson goes 2 for 2, but our
off team this season is: Casey Mears, in the 25 team. Get this! All the Hendrick cars won this season! Still, there's an off team unfortunatley.
As we said, it was Casey Mears in the 25. 25 team wins this championship for the 3rd year
in a row.
Mears flips in new car. Jimmie goes 3 in a row. Gordon goes winless? Amazing season.
Plus Jr. got signed on. Mears had a bad season though. Sad to say but Casey Mears
hasn't had a very good career. Mears is the driver of the off team 2 years in a row.
Finishing 20th in points, 1 top 5 and 6 top 10s.
Jimmie 4 in a row. Gordon snaps longest losing streak--- at the time. Mark Martin makes
a career resurgance that only lasted a year. So our off team champion is. Drumroll please.
Dale Jr. His teammates finished 1-2-3. Where's Jr? 25th. What? 25th? Remember this
team had just changed the numbers from #25 to #88 at the beginning of last season.
Remember this too, the 25 team, won 4 off team championships. Now let's make that
a 5th for the 25/88 team.
Finally! Back to the present. Right now as I write this, it is one night before the NSCS
finale. I can already sense who is gonna be the off team. But first, let's tell you about
highlights at Hendrick this year. Closest points margin heading into the final race with
Jimmie running 2nd fifteen points back behind Denny Hamlin. Mark Martin and Dale Jr.
miss Chase. Jeff Gordon winless again? Anyways, for the 6th time since 2003, the 25/88
team wins the off team championship.
Looking at this I see that Mr. Hendrick really needs to try to work on helping the
25/88 team more than just changing the crew chief every year. Jr. could've possibly
won more races and had more top 10s and top 5s had Hendrick taken a look at his team.
Hopefully this season, Rick can focus on putting all his teams in the Chase, which is
a feat that's never been done by Hendrick Motorsports
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