Is JGR actually the "underdog" within the NASCAR Cup Collection title race? - Motor Informed
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Is JGR actually the “underdog” within the NASCAR Cup Collection title race?

Wally Brown, JGR’s competitors director, actually believes the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Larson and reigning collection champion Elliott have a bonus heading into the Phoenix finale.

“Often a whole lot of instances, JGR may be the favorite going right into a championship race. I feel we’re positively the underdogs. We now have to beat the man – Kyle Larson – that has gained so many races, been so dominant this 12 months,” he mentioned.

“Then you could have Chase, the reigning champion at this observe. We’re positively the underdog. We simply don’t have the uncooked pace they’ve had this 12 months, to be sincere. We’re attempting to determine that out.

“They’ve simply overwhelmed us, simply sooner in every single place.”

From a wins standpoint, Brown’s evaluation is actually true. Hendrick’s 4 Cup drivers have amassed 16 wins by 35 races, together with a career-best 9 by Larson.

Hendrick drivers have gained races on a number of varieties of tracks – quick tracks, intermediates, highway programs, concrete and asphalt.

And but, Truex Jr. – who together with JGR teammate Denny Hamlin – make up the Championship four with Larson and Elliott, gained the spring race at Phoenix Raceway, the place the championship will probably be determined.

Shouldn’t that rely for one thing?

“You know the way this sport works. You’re at all times working to get higher. To say the vehicles are the identical will not be true,” Brown mentioned. “We’ve discovered issues. There’s been different rule updates. We’ve needed to make gentle adjustments and issues like that.

“They’re by no means the very same.”

As well as, whereas Larson has racked up practically 10 wins – and been in competition for a number of others – the battle for the common season title nonetheless went right down to the wire with Hamlin, who has two wins on the season.

Whereas Hamlin might not have earned numerous victories, his #11 Toyota crew has nonetheless proven it’s had the pace to steer laps and contend for wins whereas going toe-to-toe with Larson within the factors race for the common season championship.

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Ally, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry FedEx Ground

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Ally, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry FedEx Floor

Photograph by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images

Even this previous Sunday, Hamlin – not Larson – was in glorious place within the closing laps to win at Martinsville Speedway, till Hamlin was spun out by eventual winner Alex Bowman.

No underdogs on this battle

That’s a part of the rationale Jeff Andrews, govt vp and basic supervisor of Hendrick Motorsports, doesn’t purchase into Brown’s “underdog” declare.

“So far as us moving into with the benefit, personally I don’t see it that manner,” Andrews mentioned. “Perhaps statistically you can make that argument. From ourselves and the way we’re approaching it, we’re going on the market to race with Joe Gibbs Racing, top-of-the-line groups within the historical past of this sport.

“Our method will not be having the benefit. Our method is to enter Phoenix, hold our concentrate on being higher than we have been in Martinsville, being higher than we have been at our final 1-mile observe, so to talk, and concentrate on our race groups, concentrate on our pit stops – simply ensuring that we go in and execute and verify all of the packing containers on our finish that we’re presupposed to do.”

Andrews doesn’t must look any additional than this previous Sunday to show his level – a race the place Elliott led 289 of the 501 laps however by no means recovered as soon as he bought spun out from the lead by Brad Keselowski on Lap 455.

Whereas Elliott, Larson and Hamlin mixed to 469 laps, it was Bowman – who led simply 9 laps – who got here away with the victory.

“We bought to exit and execute,” Andrews mentioned. “We all know there’s so many issues that may occur with tires or cautions falling on the improper time that may fully simply change the end result of that race.

“Hopefully, we’ve taken all of our experiences and issues we’ve executed good or unhealthy from the season and we’ve put all that collectively and we’re ready as we probably may be for Sunday.”

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