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Harris: GM Is Winning On Sundays

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, November 13 2009
At least Chevrolet is having a good year on the race track. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The news has been nothing but good for Chevrolet on the race track. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

It’s been  a lousy year for General Motors, but you’d never know it from the results on NASCAR’s premier tracks.

As we head into the penultimate Sprint Cup race of the 2009 season, Chevrolets have just about decimated the rest of the Cup field.

That’s pretty obvious if you note that Chevy drivers Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon  are the top three in the points heading into Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway. But the overall numbers are still mighty impressive.

The GM brand has won 17 of the 34 races so far this season. The Bowtie brigade has led 5,174 of 9,913 laps – 52.2 percent – and has posted 84 top-fives and 169 top-10s; far more than any of the other makes competing in Cup.

Led by Hendrick Motorsports drivers Johnson, Martin and Gordon and Stewart Haas Racing entries Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, Chevy Impala SS drivers wrapped up the 2009 Manufacturers’ Cup for GM four races ago.

And it’s unlikely that the Chevy charge will slow down a bit on PIR’s one-mile oval.

The only big question remaining is whether Johnson, with a lead of 73 points over Martin and 112 over Gordon, can do what he has done the last three years and roll to a record fourth straight Cup title.

Since he has proven to be a great finisher, it’s highly likely the only real irritant Johnson will have this week and next is answering the same questions over and over – just as he has at the end of each of the past two seasons.

But Johnson isn’t showing any unusual nerves or reacting with any undue angst as people all but concede him another championship.

“I would say, looking at the schedule, the best track remaining for us would be PIR,’’ Johnson said earlier this week. “We had a really fast car in the spring and had some different issues on pit road and some bad luck with the timing of the caution (flag) that kept us back in the pack. And we still ended up with a reasonable finish (fourth).

“We passed a lot of cars, and in our opinion, felt like we had the strongest car. So going back to Phoenix is exciting for us.’’

But Johnson, who has three victories at PIR, takes nothing for granted – especially after getting caught up in a crash early in last week’s race at Talladega and losing a huge chunk of what had been a 184-point lead over Martin.

“For me (Phoenix) is a great track, but it’s also a great track for Jeff (Gordon),’’ Johnson said. “He runs very consistent there, and then Mark (Martin) won in the spring.  The two guys I’m trying to stay ahead of in the points have that track as a strong one, as well.’’

Gordon, a four-time champion who hasn’t won a title since 2001, would like to believe he still has a shot this season, even though he would have to hurdle both Martin and Johnson to get it done.

“A lot can happen in these final two races,’’ he said. “There are hundreds of moments that you have as a team every single weekend that maybe don’t materialize, or that don’t get seen by the public or even the media. But we see it.

“There are close calls all the time, and it can happen at any time. I get through every race and think, ‘Whew, we survived this moment or that moment.’ Phoenix has certainly been on our radar because it’s a track that’s been hit or miss for us. I’m a little disappointed in how we performed earlier this year (25th), and we certainly need to improve on that this weekend.

“A lot still has to happen if we are going to realistically battle for the championship in the season finale (at Homestead-Miami Speedway). But we need to make sure we do everything in our control to secure as many points as possible this weekend.”

Considering Johnson’s track record – no pun intended – Gordon and Martin are going to need all the help they can get.

But, considering the top three are all driving the dominating Chevys, it doesn’t seem very likely anybody else can horn in on the title show.

– Mike Harris can be reached at mharris@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, November 13 2009


  • Charles says:

    This is one of the major reasons ‘Car Fans” are leaving Nascar!!!

    You think GM dominating Nascar is new??????? Nascar has shown favortism to GM or Chevy, after Jeff Gordon and Dale Sr domintion of point titles Nascars gives them a new SB2 Engine, then in 2007 after winning apox 70% Daytona 500s, and 80% of the Talledaga races for 12 years Nascar gives the a new RO7 Engine! No wonder they have won so many manufacterers titles!!

    Just let any brand, Dodge, Toyota, or Ford dominate like that and you will see a quick rule change by Nascar to even it up!!!!
    I bet you if Jimmy Johnson was driving another brand by the time he won two point titles his wings would be cliped by Nascar!

    Makes me wonder doesnt the other brands have the rights to win like Chevy!

    GM has great cars and teams but enough is enough, its so bad now that Chevy fans I know are not going to Nascar races like they use to!

  • Bob says:

    I think it’s interesting that the teams that are dominating NASCAR’s top series are both owned by convicted felons.

    What other major sports organization allows felons to own sports teams? Answer: None!

    And people wonder why stands are empty and TV ratings are dropping.

    NASCAR has no credibility with with a growing cross-section of the American public.

    • carguy says:

      First of all, you are wrong.
      To wit: “NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reinstated Ducks owner Henry Samueli on Thursday, lifting an indefinite suspension imposed almost 18 months ago in response to his guilty plea of lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
      That comes from the Orange County Register this week.
      Also, the NFL is loaded with felon players. Some who have done hard time for violent acts. Last I looked, the NFL was doing quite well, thank you.
      So, while none of this is comforting, DO NOT say that NASCAR is somehow more morally corrupt than other pro sports organizations. Or even Congress. (I’m looking at you Mark Sanford).