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Joe Gibbs Racing Snatching "Mo" from Hendrick in NASCAR?

Dwight Drum@@racetakeCorrespondent IIIApril 20, 2010

Rain seems to be dominating Sunday motorsports, but who got "Mo" this week on Monday?

Momentum is defined as the capacity to develop, the power to increase at a growing pace. The phenomenon is shortened to "Mo" for this series and it's not unique to NASCAR. Mo is a force in all sports even though no one really knows how to possess it. That’s fortunate for nearly all fans. If any team owned Mo, they would never lose.

Not everyone believes consistent results are anything other than focused effort over time producing positive outcome. In other words, Mo doesn't exist, teams do. Yet no one ever seems to know everything about why a team surges or why Mo comes and goes. So call it Mo or whatever. In sports, getting wins is often elusive.

The fluid path of Mo this week in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has Joe Gibbs Racing close to catching Hendrick Motorsports. 

After the rain moved on and the Texas race was done the top five positions showed no change. That’s Hendrick and Roush dominating the top with Kevin Harvick at RCR holding on while his teammates slipped this week. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been consistent and is moving up now.

Joe Gibbs Racing is definitely moving up. Obviously wins lifted team spirits when Denny Hamlin got the checkers in Texas and Martinsville. One win before his knee surgery and one win after surgery is a major accomplishment. But teammates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano were moving up before Texas.

Mark Martin is moving back into the top 12 to join his successful teammates. Kurt Busch is back up after a recent DNF.

With eight of 36 races about 22 percent of the season is over with about 78 percent remaining, but eight races of 26 races remain before the Chase playoff starts. That means 30 percent of the Chase races are gone and 70 percent of races that count for the Chase remain.

Gloating or groaning at this point is wasteful, as with all champion runs and contending it’s consistency that counts. The way to get percentages working a team’s way is good results, not necessarily every week, just most weeks.

Hendrick hasn’t lost Mo, but Gibbs is getting within snatching distance as Roush hovers in the way near the top.

Big Movers this week: 

Kyle Busch +6 positions
Dale Earnhardt Jr. +3 positions
Kurt Busch +5 positions
Mark Martin +3 positions
Denny Hamlin +7 positions

Post-race quotes:

Denny Hamlin [Joe Gibbs Racing]

Hamlin talked about his recent knee surgery and staying in the car in Phoenix

I'm still not 100 percent by any means right now,” Hamlin said. “I feel like I'm 60 at best. I knew every week—I knew Phoenix was going to be a struggle. But I knew that for the next month it was going to be tougher to get good finishes than what it would, you know, pre-surgery.

“I think it just showed a little bit of courage for those guys. I knew they would give their left leg for me, and I was willing to do the same thing for them.”

Jimmie Johnson [Hendrick Motorsports]

Johnson had only one more position to go before he ran out of laps. 

“All in all great performance,” Johnson said. “Wish we could have won here in Texas. Love that cowboy hat. Would love to have it on my head. But very solid performance for us. Not a lot to complain about for today. Just one more spot better would have been an awesome day.”

Kyle Busch [Joe Gibbs Racing]

Busch has record wins in Nationwide and was candid about Sprint Cup.

“We got a lot better than probably what we deserved,” Busch said. “Last week we didn't get what we deserved. So it's unfortunate we miss a win, but then we get a third because of a 13th place car. But overall, times work out back and forth. But we'll take what we got today.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. [Hendrick Motorsports]

Earnhardt Jr. has finished near the top often this season.

“We're getting better,” Earnhardt said. “But we still have a lot to work on, to get better. We're a good team. We can be a great team and we have to keep working.”

Kurt Busch [Penske Racing]

Busch has the No. 2 in the top 10 frequently this season.

“I don’t think that we quite had the speed like we did here last fall,” Busch said. “I’m real happy with my guys. The pit stops were great. I’d be running 12th and they got me out seventh. We’ll take this fourth-place finish in our Miller Lite Dodge.”

1 -- Jimmie Johnson [1248 points] Leader [Chevy]
2 -- Matt Kenseth -108 [Ford]
3 -- Greg Biffle – 128 [Ford]
4 -- Kevin Harvick -141 [Chevy]
5 -- Jeff Gordon -220 [Chevy]
6 +6 Kyle Busch -228 [Toyota]
7 +3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. -235 [Chevy]
8 -1 Jeff Burton -243 [Chevy]
9 +5 Kurt Busch -249 [Dodge]
10 +3 Mark Martin -254 [Chevy]
11 +7 Denny Hamlin -275 [Toyota]
12 -1 Joey Logano -307 [Toyota]

This analysis of Mo will return after the next Sprint Cup checker flag.

Photo credit: Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com 

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