In today's blog I want to pick who I believe are the top teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. So much is put into who the best drivers are, but I believe more thought needs to be put in to who truly dominates the series, the team owners. Drivers are probably the most important aspect of the sport. Great drivers mean great racing, but you can't have drivers without teams. Race teams like Roush, Hendrick, and Penske, hire some of the greatest drivers in the world to get behind the wheel of a 3400-lb racecar.
With multi million dollar contracts on the line, team owners have to make decisions as to who is worth it, but drivers also have to make the decision as to whether a team is elite or not in the series. Looking into the best teams I am simply going off performance from the last few years. So honestly a team like Furniture Row Racing probably won't make the list. One amazing season does not prove that the #78 will continue to run well over the long hall. So let's get started.
1) Hendrick Motorsports. I don't think anyone can argue against Hendrick Motorsports being on top. With a driver line up of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Kasey Kahne, it seems this team could almost do no wrong. Hendrick Motorsports has taken home 6 of the last 10 Cup titles, and has played a role in 8 of them (2 Stewart-Haas championships). Rick Hendrick has built a super team with some of the most successful drivers in Cup Series history. You honestly can't be surprised if a Hendrick car finds victory lane on any given weekend. I expect this team to continue to dominate the series, with a young driver like Chase Elliot coming in, it looks as though the team is sure to have talent in their stable for years to come. One thing Hendrick has that others don't is the ability to consistently have all 4 teams run competitively.
Hendrick Motorsports 2015 Driver Line-up
2) Penske Racing. It seems that the #2 and #22 teams have cooled down over the last few weeks, but don't think this team is down for the count. Both cars have already qualified for the Chase, and are sure to have a say in who takes home the championship this year. Penske intrigues me. Just a few years ago it seemed that this team was just a mid-pack organization. Penske has always had talented drivers including Rusty Wallace, Kurt Busch, and Ryan Newman, but the team wasn't a real championship competitor for a few years. Then all of a sudden in 2011 hit, and Brad Keselowksi burst on to the scene. Keselowski had an electric second half of the year, and eventually went on to win the Cup title in 2012. This team CAN beat Hendrick, but still remains in the #2 spot, due to long term success. Hendrick also has shown the ability to run 3 or 4 cars at a high level, and Penske has not.
Penske Racing 2015 Driver Line-up
3) Stewart-Haas Racing. This one was hard for me to choose. It was almost a tie between Stewart-Haas and Joe Gibbs Racing. The thing that pushed Stewart-Haas past JGR are the two championships won by Tony Stewart in 2011, and Kevin Harvick in 2014. Stewart-Haas Racing emerged in 2009 when Tony Stewart decided he wanted to own is own Cup series team. Stewart-Haas does have some issues it needs to work out with the lack of performance from owner Stewart, and the lack of growth from Danica Patrick. The thing that holds this organization up is the level of competition out of the #4 and #41 teams. Kevin Harvick is arguably the favorite to win this years championship. He has ran up front all year, and is more consistent than ever before. Kurt, has already won two races, and continues to show speed. I believe Stewart-Haas Racing has earned its spot on the list and will continue to show success.
Stewart-Haas Racing 2015 Driver Line-up
4) Joe Gibbs Racing. Obviously losing out to Stewart-Haas, JGR will fall to 4th. No matter what you think of their drivers, the line-up of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, and Carl Edwards, almost seems unstoppable on paper. This organization has great drivers, and great equipment. The reason this team is not higher on the list is the inability to win a championship. Gibbs hasn't brought home a title since 2005, when Tony Stewart drove the #20 Home Depot Chevy to win the championship. This team can win almost any weekend, but just isn't intimidating heading into the Chase. Yes, Denny Hamlin made it to Homestead last season, but was never the favorite over Harvick and Logano. Things could change in the next few years, but right now I don't believe this team is ready to win a championship.
Joe Gibbs Racing 2015 Driver Line-up
5) Richard Childress Racing. I know this may be a shock to some, but if you're looking over the last handful of years this team has to be here. I wanted to put Roush or Ganassi here, but the results just don't show. RCR may not be strong now, but just two years ago this was a team that competed for the title 3 years in a row with Kevin Harvick. Roush did have Edwards run 2nd a few years ago, but since then has fizzled out. Edwards and Biffle became the only two drivers to carry the team, and the #16 has been very disappointing. One thing that eliminates Roush is the terrible performance from Stenhouse and this year Trevor Bayne. Ganassi is definitely the strongest of the these three in 2015, but again I said over the last few years. Ganassi just brought in Larson last year, and McMurray hasn't ran up front for a few years. This year is an up year for the #1 team, but remember at one point McMurray was almost out of a ride. RCR takes this place because of what Harvick did a few years ago, and you have to throw in Newman's 'almost championship' season last year. Austin Dillon hasn't performed up to par, and Menard has gotten better every season. So, with all those factors I put RCR as number 5 on this countdown.
Richard Childress Racing 2015 Driver Line-up
Just Missed: Chip Ganassi Racing, Roush-Fenway Racing, and Michael Waltrip Racing
Well here you have my top 5 organizations. Let me know what you think! Again I want to note that if I was just looking at 2015, the #78 team would have made the cut, but over the last few years has just started performing.
Have a great 4th of July and enjoy the races at Daytona!!!