NASCAR: With Win No. 200, Rick Hendrick Reflects on Unusual 2012 Season so Far

Hugo OlguinContributor IIIMay 16, 2012

DARLINGTON, SC - MAY 12:  (R-L) Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with team owner Rick Hendrick and NASCAR President Mike Helton after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 12, 2012 in Darlington, South Carolina. This is the 200th win for Hendrick Motorsports.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Rick Hendrick has to been feeling great, as Jimmie Johnson was able to get win No. 200 for Hendrick Motorsports at Darlington. After Hendrick's teams got close to winning multiple times this season, the pressure seems to be off after his teams were winless for the first 10 races.

Hendrick is smart enough to know that this season is long from being over or a success. During a teleconference, Hendrick talked about many topics, including the unusual start for his teams this season.

Between Kasey and Jeff Gordon, probably the rottenest luck I've had in racing in my career. I mean, I can't even remember as many flat tires or wrecks, or Kasey is running third on the last lap and gets shoved into the wall. 

We have had some freak things break on the car, but I'm not going to take away from the competition level that's out there. But I still believe that I think the momentum is going to be on our side when we get to the Chase. I think Jeff is going to win races. We have got to get to 20th in the points, but I think he's going to win races, and Kasey is going to win races

What has to be comforting for Hendrick is that his cars are typically some of the strongest cars on the track. But what is astounding is how much bad luck his teams have had.

Kasey Kahne started off the season with finishes of 29th or worse in four of the first six races. Now, Kahne has five straight top-10 finishes, and he has moved from 31st to 16th in points.  

On the other hand, Jeff Gordon has had no luck at all this season. He has only two top-10 finishes and sits 24th in points. Gordon has had just about everything bad happen to him this season—from blown motors, to crashes, to flat tires, to bad pit stops. Those reasons have cost Gordon good finishes and a win or two.

DARLINGTON, SC - MAY 12: Car owner Rick Hendrick watches from atop the pit box during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 12, 2012 in Darlington, South Carolina.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

Gordon's crash at Martinsville still bothers Hendrick, even after getting win No. 200:

When you're running one, two, three and you've got three laps to go, or two laps to go, and you've got a straight way on everybody and you just kind of are cruising and then somebody stops on the track and then you've got to restart and you have a big wreck that takes out everybody—I think that one crushed me more than any one ever has, because I wanted to win at Martinsville, and that would have been a great place for the 200th win, where the accident happened. I have a lot of family there and had relatives on the plane. That one crushed me, and I don't think I'll ever get over that one.

Now, Hendrick has to look ahead to the All-Star Race this weekend to have his teams race hard for money and prepare for the Coca-Cola 600.

Well, when you're in that All-Star Race, the track does some crazy things when the sun goes down. I've seen it get loose; I've seen it get tight. It does give the guys a good reference for running the 600. I think this year, with the 600 moved back a little later in the day, it's even going to be more important to see how your car reacts on two tires and all of the other things, the adjustments you make during the race.

You know, we are going to take this one race at a time. We want to win the All-Star Race because it's a lot of bragging rights. But we'll get a lot of information over there that will prepare us for the 600.

It is still a long way from the Chase starting, and with how strong the Hendrick cars can run, there is no way to count out the fact that all four of Rick Hendrick's teams can still make the Chase.

Hugo Olguin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.