Joe Gibbs, Rick Hendrick Dominating NASCAR Season

Getty Joe Gibbs and Rick Hendrick

Life is good if your name is Rick Hendrick or Joe Gibbs. The two legendary team owners have been dominating NASCAR this season, and have separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

Six of the seven races this year have been won by a Hendrick or Gibbs driver. It hasn’t been one or two drivers carrying the load for the entire organization. All eight drivers have been performing extremely well. Six of them finished inside the top seven in yesterday’s Spring Richmond race.

To put things into perspective, these were the season leaders coming into Richmond.

Hamlin has now tied Byron for most wins and is the only driver to lead a lap in every race. Truex is still the only driver to finish on the lead lap in every race. Seven races into the season, Hendrick and JGR drivers have led 1,013 of the 2,014 total laps.

The question to ponder is, does this help or hurt NASCAR?

There have been several instances of teams dominating a league before. For nearly 30 years, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers were on a collision course to the NBA Finals. There was a time when the Dallas Cowboys were seemingly unbeatable. The New York Yankees have been to the World Series 40 times, winning 27 championships.

This is nothing new in motorsports, either. Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing have dominated IndyCar since reunification in 2008. It has been 12 years since anyone other than Penske or Ganassi has won the title. That’s right – these two titans have won 15 of the last 16 series championships.

Other teams still have the opportunity to bask in the sunshine, but it almost feels as though they are playing the role of spoiler. Expectations are high at Hendrick and Gibbs, but they are living up to them.

Gen 7 Parity Quickly Fading

When the Gen 7 car came along, it produced parity throughout the garage. There were 19 different race winners in that 2022 season, making it one of the most competitive years in the history of the sport. That unpredictability was a breath of fresh air, but things have slowly shifted back to the norm.

As organizations have more time and data to review, the bigger teams tend to separate themselves. They are able to elevate at a much faster rate, given their resources. The drivers must get better too – and they certainly have. The young talent is evolving and the experienced veterans have adapted well.

The regular season likely suffers more, as anything can happen in the Playoffs. One blown tire, spin, or mechanical issue can put a driver in a nearly impossible hole to climb out of. This makes stage points and Playoff points even more critical, but these two powerhouses are gobbling those up.

This is not to say there is no hope for Penske, Stewart-Haas, 23XI Racing, or RFK Racing. They may all find victory lane at some point this year, just like Trackhouse. They might not be on par with these two teams but there is plenty of time to catch up before the Playoffs begin.

Truex, Larson Fuel Rivalry at Richmond

The Hendrick/Gibbs rivalry went up another notch at Richmond when Truex and Kyle Larson got together on the final lap. It continued past the finish line, as the two traded paint and sparks flew.

Truex was frustrated that he had the victory in hand, until Larson spun with two laps to go. Hamlin beat Truex off pit road and used him on the final restart to steal the win from his teammate. Truex, who led 228 laps, said Hamlin went early on the restart but officials said that wasn’t the case.

Both of these organizations want to be the top dog. Both believe they are the team to beat this season. They also both know that they will have to go through the other to make it happen.