It is no secret that Hendrick Motorsports is the finest team in the garage. Their driver lineup, crew members, cars, and personnel are all some of the best in NASCAR today. They also know how to take advantage of their rich resources as season in and season out; they are the best team on track.
Each year, Hendrick prowess is demonstrated in various ways. 2013’s dominance was another championship with Jimmie Johnson, his sixth in eight years. 2014 will not be any different as Hendrick Motorsports is prepped and already one step ahead of the competition in the battle for the Sprint Cup.
Kasey Kahne had a rather good 2013. Two wins aided him in making the Chase, but his season couldn’t be considered great due to a disastrous playoff’s. Frustration set in throughout the final ten races as Kahne couldn’t get anything to go for him. 2014 offers a much-needed fresh start for Kahne which hopefully will put 2013 out of mind. With learning from the best at Hendrick Motorsports over the past two years, the time in which Kahne will show he’s one of the best is bound to come soon. Could it come in 2014? The ingredients are there and Kahne knows how to win which should do him well this season.
My Prediction: Kahne experiences his best season yet at Hendrick, winning three to four races. He will easily make the Chase and be a contender early. He may not survive to make it to the final Chase round, but 2014 will display a stronger Kahne.
Coming off a wild ride to end 2013, Gordon is ready for another opportunity to compete for the Sprint Cup. After being very competitive in the Chase, Gordon renewed his confidence and can easily start this season out very strong. The new points and Chase system is all about winning, so if Gordon can grab a few wins at his better tracks, he is all set for another end of the season run. Gordon has to start the season out hot in order to accomplish all of that. If he can’t, expect another long season for the No.24 team.
My Prediction: The whole season will come down to whether or not Gordon can get to victory lane. If he can earn a victory or two at his better tracks, then he will make the Chase. I see Gordon getting at least one victory and being very competitive in the Chase.
It may be tough for non-Jimmie Johnson fans to hear, but Johnson is just now hitting the prime of his career. 2013 demonstrated his dominance in route to his sixth championship. From Daytona to Homestead-Miami, Johnson was up front in just about every race. Now that he has reached his career’s high point, 2014 may feature a similar performance by Johnson. He will undoubtedly be contending for multiple wins in the regular season. In turn, that will lead him into the Chase where he could turn up his power and ruthlessly dominate. When NASCAR makes everything about wins, the No.48 team smiles as they know as much as anybody else on how to do just that.
My Prediction: Johnson will score five to six wins in the regular season leading up to the Chase where he will win some more. He is a lock for a spot at Miami among the final four drivers where it wouldn’t surprise me if he takes home a seventh championship.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Coming off arguably the best season of his career and learning through the new points system he would have been last year’s champion, Dale Earnhardt Jr. must be excited to start 2014. Everything is going for him right now and the time for him to compete closely for the title is here. He may have the best shot of his career in 2014 as Steve Letarte would also like a championship to his name before leaving for NBC. If they can put everything together, keep an eye on the No.88 team this season.
My Prediction: Earnhardt Jr. will have a rather good season with many top five’s and top ten’s. They will get to victory lane once or twice and catch fire in the Chase bringing them very close to the title.
By Jason Schultz
Follow him on twitter @NASCARJason