Allen Lessels on Motor Sports: Hendrick's drivers spend a busy day testing at NHMS
Jimmie Johnson's car is in pit stop, during the Hendrick Motorsports Racing Team's test day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Wednesday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
Under new NASCAR rules, a company's teams all test together these days and that brought four of Sprint Cup racing's biggest stars - Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne - to New Hampshire. They were due to test on Tuesday as well, but rain changed those plans and instead everything got squeezed into one day
They want to lock up a full one-third of the field for the 2013 Chase to the Sprint Cup Championship.
Gordon has some ground to make up. He sits 13th in points going into the Michigan Pure 400 today and does not have a win, which would be a big help if he needs to get in via the wildcard route.
Hendrick Motorsports saved the bulk of its limited testing dates for late in the season, allowing it to gear up for the Chase.
His Lowe's Chevrolet team has a huge lead in the points and the five-time champion is an early favorite to collect No. 6. The points lead will allow him to miss the last pre-Chase race at Richmond to be with his wife, Chandra, who is due about then with their second daughter, if necessary.
"I think it's good for me and the 48," Johnson said. "To be in the cars, at the track, trying to find speed, developing parts and pieces and putting pressure on myself, on the team and on Chad, that's the world we're going to live in for 10 weeks. So right now, we're kind of ramping up and building that pressure instead of showing up at Chicago and the pressure landing on our shoulders."
"It's not a lot of fun having to race looking over your shoulder all the time trying to make the Chase the last few events," Earnhardt said. "Especially going into Richmond, if you're in a situation where it's real close. It's just a real miserable weekend having to worry about that."
Kahne, and Gordon especially, may be worrying.
Gordon does not have a win and is 15 points behind Martin Truex Jr., who ranks 10th. He needs to either move safely into the Top 10, or win one of the last three races and hope he has enough points to hold off others looking for a wildcard.
The Hendrick folks, by the way, got lots of work in at NHMS before getting back on those airplanes and heading home.