Cream is rising: Hendrick Motorsports’ dominance no surprise

Team owner Rick Hendrick (left) shares a laugh with Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It’s a funny thing how this season has gone. In the first seven races of 2014, we had seven different winners. However, in the last nine races, we’ve only had three new winners.

I think when the season started there were so many changes and unknowns about the new aero package, the no ride-height rule and how the teams were approaching the setup that there was a lot of hits and misses by the teams.

You know it seemed like right out of the box, Team Penske really, really had its arms around things. From practice to qualifying and right on through the race, the Penske cars were up front.

As time has evolved, more teams have gotten their arms around it and, most notably of those, is the powerhouse known as Hendrick Motorsports.

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Sunday at Sonoma was the first time in a month that a Hendrick driver or Hendrick-related driver has not been to Victory Lane. That even includes the non-points Sprint All-Star Race won by Jamie McMurray who had a Hendrick powerplant under the hood of his No. 1 Chevrolet.

You can liken it somewhat to the old tortoise and the hare story. When 2014 started, Team Penske, for example, was the hare that jumped way out in front of everyone. What you are seeing are the teams, most of which we expected, starting to rise to the top and level off the playing field.

You’ve heard my colleague and friend in the booth, Darrell Waltrip, and I preach this all the time: It doesn’t matter what the rule package is. It doesn’t matter what car it is. It actually doesn’t matter what changes are made. At some point — and there will come a point — the cream is going to rise to the top.

I think that’s what we are witnessing right now in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.