The Four Horsemen of Hendrick Motorsports: Will They Lead the Charge in Phoenix?

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IApril 9, 2010

CONCORD, NC - JANUARY 20:  Jimmie Johnson (L), driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet speaks with the media during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at Hendrick Motorsports, on January 20, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)
Jason Smith/Getty Images

Hendrick Motorsports' horsepower has won the last six races at Phoenix International Raceway. All four drivers in the Hendrick stable have won at the track.

The Subway Fresh Fit 600 will be sporting an additional 63 laps for NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. This additional on-track time should bode well for the crew chiefs adept at adjusting cars for the final laps.

Chad Knaus, obviously, has mastered this ability, but Steve Letarte, Alan Gustafson, and Lance McGrew are fully capable of making their cars strong when it counts the most.

Qualifying for the race at Phoenix will be complicated by the sun's blinding rays as the drivers enter the first turn. With only two chances to get it right, it is unlike running many repetitive laps under the same conditions during the race.

The event will start in sunshine, and end under cooler temperatures as night begins to fall. 

As Letarte, crew chief for Gordon's No. 24 said, "So, you have to give up some speed early in the race to be sure the car is faster toward the end of the race. And that means we have to be patient in the early stages."

Average finishing positions at Phoenix are 5.1 for Jimmie Johnson, 8.8 for Mark Martin, 10.8 for Jeff Gordon, and 19.2 for Dale Earnhardt, Jr..

Johnson has dominated with three wins, three top-five, and four top-10 finishes. His stellar performance has been with the winged COT. This time he will be racing with a spoiler, which could be detrimental.

The spoiler may prove to be a positive change for Dale, Jr., making the car handle in a way he prefers. He has had two wins at the Phoenix track in the Sprint Cup series and his hunger for a win intensifies with every race as the season unfolds.

Martin started his comeback at Phoenix this time last year after winning the spring race. He said at the conclusion of the race, "I have got the biggest shot of adrenaline that you have ever seen."

Martin went on to win four more Sprint Cup races and was eliminated from the championship at the end of the last race in Homestead. 

His second-place finish to Johnson in the final point standings last year fuels his desire to bring a championship to Hendrick Motorsports this year. Though there has yet to be retirement talk from Martin again, this could indeed be his last year racing in the Sprint Cup series.

Gordon experienced handling problems during practice for the 600, but don't discount Letarte's ability to remedy any problems they may have. 

Gordon is ready to resume his winning ways, and beating Johnson would be sweet victory for him.

Johnson is clean-shaven for the race opting to go for the "fresh" look.

Perhaps the lack of drag from his beard will offset any problems they have with the spoiler, should there be any.

The four horsemen of Hendrick are riding into Phoenix ready for battle.

It will be interesting to see who can mount a charge in the end to take the win from the HMS stable of drivers.

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