I am going to do a blog on each of the major teams by manufacture. This one will be on the Defending Champion Chevorlet. Then I will do Ford, Toyota, and last Dodge. Here's my take on the Chevy teams
Hendricks Motor Sports
The question with HMS is how many drivers they will have in the chase. We know that Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon will probably be there, but the question is will Junior or Mark Martin be the third or will HMS actually get 4 drivers in. I understand that Junior was running 3rd when the chase started, he was very consistent last year, however, I still have issues on his communication with his crew chief when it comes to the late stages of the race. The question is was the regular season what we should expect to see from Junior or did what happen in the chase really show the state of that team. The other big question is Mark Martin. Here is a good driver that hasn't raced a full season the past 2 years. Question is can he do well and make the chase in a car that did not make the chase last year or the year before. Rick has seemed to always have an R&D car and the biggest question is what car will be his R&D car this year or will they finally all get it together.
Prediction for HMS - HMS should have 3 cars in the chase again this year, maybe 4, JJ and Jeff should be a lock with either Dale Junior or Mark Martin the third party.
Richard Childress Racing
This is Richards First year as an owner of 4 cars. The past two seasons he has been able to get all 3 cars in the chase but will he do it again this year? The 29 of Harvicks and 31 of Jeff Burton should be a lock to make the chase, the questions lie with Clint Bowyers move to a new team with a new crew chief, in the 33 car and can Casey Mears live up to his hype and make the chase with a crew that made it with a rookie and sophomore driver the last two year?
Prediction for RCR - RCR should have 2 cars locked into the chase and a third car should make it. I don't believe they will get all 4 cars in the chase meaning either Mears or Bowyer will not make it. This season could be a turning point for Casey as Richard's grandson is starting to make his way into the lower NASCAR circuits.
Will the merger of DEI and GR bring success or failure to the new team? Both Truex Jr and Montoya have an outside chance to make the chase but for this organization the main question is can they field a 3rd full time team in order to keep Turex Jr. and more importantly Bass Pro Shop for another year? It appears that John Andretti will be using the points from the 15 and will run full time with an alliance to EGR. Will BASS Pro Shop recognize this alliance as a full filling thier agreement with EGR?
Prediction for EGR - This is a team sorely in need for another full time sponsor for the 8 car. It is possible that we may see this team close its door at years end. Montoya and Truex Jr. should battle for a chase spot but right now I'm not sure either will make it.
Stewart Hass Racing
Repeat after me: Tony is not a teammate of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Mark Martin. He does not race for Rick Hendricks and never will. Now with that out of the way......
Will Tony be successful on his own? How will he do without Zippy in his corner to keep him under control? These and many other questions will be answered the first half of this season and should prove interesting. The other question is what chance does he and Ryan Newman have at making the chase? Very little if you ask me. I know most don't agree with me, with the exception of Hawks, most are in a wait and see mode. But I cannot see Rick Hendricks selling equipment to Tony that will take money out of his pockets. Tony is an outstanding driver and could win a race this year, (plate track being his best bet) but I look for Tony to finish somewhere between 15th and 20th in points with Ryan finishing outside the top 25. New team, growing pains and not building their own equipment will hurt this team this year. Hopefully, Tony is getting things set up to start building his own in the future.
Prediction for SHR
I believe Tony will struggle more this year than most will think. Tony is a great driver and I am a fan of his, my number 2 driver behind Mikey, but I think he will have his plate full trying to keep his car in the top 20 and getting Ryan in the top 25. Don't look for too much from this team.
Well there you have it. I have covered all the major Chevy Teams now it is your turn to let me and others know what you think.