Nascar teams come in all shapes and sizes. Strong and weak, big and small, powerhouse, start and park, Nationwide-only, you name it. But all teams share one thing in common; the push to be the most successful. But which team builds the best cars? Which team has the best personnel? Which team would you be most successful with?
Question: Which team would you want to drive for if you were a highly sought-after free-agent?
Situation: You are backed by the biggest sponsorship deal and every team has an open seat. These are your options (on the Cup side):
Richard Childress Racing
Joe Gibbs Racing
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
Michael Waltrip Racing
Stewart Haas Racing
Roush Fenway Racing
Richard Petty Motorsports
Furniture Row Racing
Robby Gordon Racing
Team Red Bull
Tommy Baldwin Racing
Front Row Racing
The Racer's Group
Since this article would be really short if I just ended it now, I'll keep writing as if it was me. A logical choice, in my opinion, would be to narrow the options down to: Red Bull, Roush, Penske, Stewart/Haas, Waltrip, Hendrick, EGR, Gibbs, and Childress. It seems to me that these are the only teams at the highest level of the sport that each have the ability to produce a race-winning car week-in week-out.
For most, from there it would become a matter of preference. If you're a really good driver, you should be able to win with any of the above-listed teams.
In my case, if I was given such a glorious opportunity, I'd pick to drive for Hendrick, easily. But that's me, a huge Hendrick fan.
But if I were to be objective about it (eliminate fanhood for a second), I would seek the place where I would probably find the most success. Any of the above teams CAN win, but which actually do so consitently? This is where I would eliminate Red Bull, Waltrip, and Childess (yup) from the list. Childress is ultra-consistent because they have very good drivers, but if it were me, wanting to be remembered for hundreds of wins and championships, they would be out of the running early. If you take plate races out of the equation, Childress has only 2 wins in the last 2 years.
Roush would be out next. No Roush driver has consitently won multiple races from year to year in recent times. Like Childress, Roush has really good drivers, but it takes a good driver and a good car to win really often.
So now I would be left with Penske, Stewart/Haas, Hendrick, EGR, and Gibbs. Right now, it looks to me as if EGR and Gibbs are building the best cars. However, Hendrick always been notorious for having the best people, and many of them are at Stewart/Haas too. Penske probably makes the best choices, especially in terms of acquiring personnel (See: Steve Addington, Chad Walter, Jay Guy, Will Power, Brad Keselowski, Justin Allgaier) and has the brightest future (N'wide Championship just about locked up - Indycar Championship on lock - Strong chance to win Cup Championship).
My top 5:
5. Penske - I highlighted their future and ability to make good moves, but the situation would be about MY success, not that of my teammates.
4. Stewart Haas - Why race at Hendrick-lite when you can race at Hendrick itself?
3. Hendrick - Painful to put this 3rd, but as of RIGHT NOW, Jimmie is the only Hendrick driver that can get to victory lane. With Martin and Earnhardt struggling, it seems HMS is very much a chemistry-dependent organization.
2. Earnhardt Ganassi - This and last year, they have been phenomenal. For just a TWO CAR team, they have been chase contenders and win contenders. EGR made Juan Montoya good at ovals for crying out loud. On paper, Jamie McMurray and Juan Montoya just as drivers are hardly win-threats, so there MUST be some excellent garage-work going on there to get these guys doing so well.
1. Gibbs - It seems as though they have it all. They dominate Nationwide, they dominate Cup (and IF they had teams in other series, I'm sure they'd dominate). Of course, all this domination is just as of late. But right now, Gibbs is building the fastest cars and putting more of them in victory lane than any other team. Kyle Busch has almost been at Gibbs for equally as long as he was at Hendrick, and in his time at Gibbs he has almost quadruple (1 short) wins as he did at Hendrick. Meanwhile, the Gibbs organization also took Joey Logano and made him an instant star. No driver has risen faster. And don't even get me started on Denny Hamlin, who won the Bud Shootout in Cup before having won any race in the Nationwide series, and who scored both poles and both wins at Pocono, the hardest track for new drivers, in his rookie season. It's safe to say Gibbs is pointed in the right direction and is good at creating superstars.
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