Johnson, Martin develop rivalry quiet by NASCAR standards
For the magazine this week, I wrote
According to another source, this was a case of new school (Gordon and Evernham) vs. old school (Labonte and veteran crew chief
A few examples of the gamesmanship from sources at HMS:
• At the race track, Dehart would have his team cover the car and leave the garage early to mess with Evernham's head. Mr. Hendrick held a meeting with the 5 (Labonte) and 24 (Gordon) teams and told them "Do whatever you want to do to each other, but don't do anything that will lose this championship for Hendrick Motorsports."
• The 24 team had an engine that they were very proud of named "Big Wally." The 5 team, in turn, won four pole positions and named their engine the "Big Wally Eater."
• Every time the 5 would get a pole or beat the 24, Labonte's team would blare "Rooster" by Alice in Chains over the PA system in the 24 team's shop. Sample lyric: "Here they come to snuff the Rooster/Here come the Rooster, yeah/You know he ain't gonna die."
• According to
Andrews says that this all began to change in '01, when Johnson's 48 team was created and housed in the same shop with the 24. Johnson's instant success led to the policy of all-out, team-wide sharing. Andrews, for one, prefers the new setup. "The sharing of information makes everyone here better."
The banking in the turns at Dover is ridiculously steep for such a short track -- 24 degrees, and Logano just tumbled down the face of one of the turns. Amazing stuff.