Are HMS’ Technical Alliances Limiting Competition in NASCAR?

Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville 2011
Photo – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

By Michelle Lesener and Sharon Burton

Technical alliances in NASCAR allow teams to get equipment and technical support from another team, which is great for many of the smaller teams. But does it also help the team providing technical support and limit the competitive nature of the sport?

Stewart-Haas Racing/SHR is one of those teams involved in a technical alliance with another team – Hendrick Motorsports/HMS. Their partnership allows SHR to get engines and technical support from the longer established, premier team of HMS within the Sprint Cup Series. At the same time, many are applauding team owner Rick Hendrick for his achievement of having all four of his HMS cars in the Chase this season.

Alliances are seen – and this one in particular – as a way to circumvent NASCAR’s four-car limit for team owners. Viewing Stewart-Haas as a satellite team or extension of Hendrick Motorsports actually means the Hendrick organization technically has five cars competing in the Chase field this year. That’s nearly half of the twelve Chase contenders.

It also means, the Hendrick organization has a technical association in the last six championships, with Jimmie Johnson’s consecutive five titles, followed by Tony Stewart’s championship run last year.

At Richmond, Rick Hendrick speaks with Tony Stewart after he clinched a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup on September 10, 2011
Photo – Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Last year, prior to the first race in the Chase, two-time champion – with Joe Gibbs Racing –  Tony Stewart said that he and his relatively new SHR team didn’t belong in the Chase, because they were not performing at a Chase competition level. However, once the Chase began, Stewart and his team surprised everyone, including himself,  by hitting a hot streak. Tony Stewart’s team pulled off an almost unheard of feat, by winning half of the ten Chase races. The #14 team notched back to back wins in the first two races of the Chase at Chicago and Loudon, before winning an additional three on their way to winning Stewart’s third championship at Homestead. It’s certainly possible the SHR-HMS technical alliance had a huge impact in Stewart’s championship title run.

This year, going into the chase, Stewart notched three wins before Richmond but barely held onto tenth place. Stewart’s wins did allow him to take advantage of the Chase-seeding bonus points he earned within the first 26 races of the season and gave Hendrick a fifth technical competitor in the Chase.

Next year, SHR teammates, Stewart and Newman will continue their technical alliance and run alongside, HMS teammates, Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt Jr and Kahne for the Sprint Cup title. Adding Danica Patrick to the Stewart Haas Racing team in 2013, means that Hendrick’s technical alliance provides for a total of seven cars competing among the 43- car field in the Sprint Cup Series.

Friday, November 2nd,  Earnhardt Ganassi Racing/EGR announced they are switching to Hendrick engines for the 2013 season. With this new information, since this article was originally published, that means that for the 2013 season, Hendrick technical alliances will increase by two more drivers with EGR’s Juan Montoya and Jamie McMurray in the Sprint Cup Series. There will now be nine cars running Hendrick engines and sharing information, among the 43-car field on any given race weekend – that’s 20.9% of the total racing field.

Also worthy of note is that Dale Earnhardt Jr‘s Nationwide team, JR Motorsports, also has a technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports, giving HMS another outlet to NASCAR’s team owner limit.

Clearly, there is a Hendrick dominance within NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series with their technical association to the last six Sprint Cup titles. With HMS driver Jimmie Johnson once again at the top of the Chase points, and competing for his sixth title, there’s the potential for the Hendrick organization to see their seventh consecutive win for the championship…again!

Is it time for NASCAR to limit technical alliances in order to give greater opportunity for other teams to compete against the Hendrick organization powerhouse?

Updated November 2, 2012 at 2:00pm CDT

7 thoughts on “Are HMS’ Technical Alliances Limiting Competition in NASCAR?

  1. Your figures are a little off, as the whole article seems. When you added Stewart, that was 2 cars, not one! You forgot the #51 that also does the same thing. There are more or partial with HMS. As things stand now, NO team can run a Ford without the ble$$ings of Roush & even Penske will have an alliance with them next year! The Toyos are supposed, all the same engines now, Ganassi is dumping his part of ECR next year to go with HMS. What Kind of a one sided point were you trying to make??

    • Mike, Thanks for your comment. We welcome the other side of the story, but the facts speak for themselves. Ford, Dodge and Toyota have absolutely no championships in the past six years. No other, technical alliance has dominated the Sprint Cup title over the past six years. In fact, the past six championships involve Hendrick technical associations, thus the article concerns the Hendrick technical alliances limiting competition among other teams. Potentially, the Hendrick organization could notch a seventh consecutive championship IF, Johnson wins his sixth championship in 2012.

      Also, although Newman is part of SHR, he’s not a Chase contender. Therefore, Hendrick engines are running and sharing information in five of the twelve current Chase contending cars, including Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt Jr, Kahne and Stewart.

      With EGR’s news today, In 2013, there will be nine Sprint Cup cars with Hendrick engines including Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt Jr, Kahne, Stewart, Newman, Patrick, Montoya and McMurray. The facts presented here clearly indicate that Hendrick’s technical alliances circumvent the four-car team limit and can be interpreted as the reason behind their dominance over the past six and potentially seven years.

      If you have information that disputes any of the information we’ve presented, please feel free to add those facts for the other side of the story.

      Thanks again…

      • It wasn’t the intention to disagree that HMS has controlled the last few championships, possibly a few more too. This is still only 2 teams, not a rotating group. My point was mainly that there are NO teams outside the top 20 or more without an alliance with a mfg rep. Not just HMS. Russ makes a point, but I feel the chassis already is from Nascar, You pay them, assemble a kit as they say, pay again to have them inspect it, Pick up your decals with the name on them. So you have HMS as #1, Roush #2 [?] Toyo #3 [split] & RCR trying to hang on. That’s all the top points & some not. So if you think Nascar will limit anything, guess again. With the person in charge now, it’s more about the money than any show.

        So with one team HMS still controls 5 of the last 6 & about 50-50 for 6 of 7. That hqas NOTHING to do with alliance or multi teams.

        No I don’t think it’s a good thing, but it’s not changing soon.

  2. I don’t think you carried your point far enough. It has been obvious for some time now that the manufacturers, and the teams themselves perhaps, wanted to go down the road of single supplier of engines for each brand.
    In an era where the sanctioning body wants “parity” there is little incentive to build a better mousetrap. GM as is their way has been the last to join this movement, but are now following suit. One question is how long before RCR accepts the inevitable and starts to use the Hendrick powerplants? With the lack of any new entrants into the Sprint Cup field it would appear the talk of new customers, at least in oval track racing, appears to be a matter of pride talking.
    The real interesting question is this: How long before the chassis building goes along the same route? Imagine a return to the days of Holman-Moody, etc. If you run a Ford everything comes from Roush, GM Hendrick, Toyota tba either Gibbs or TRD.
    The times they are a changing.

  3. Mike is correct that the 51 team at Phoenix Racing also has a technical alliance with Hendrick. That means. in addition to the nine drivers mentioned above, there are actually ten Hendrick engines running in the Sprint Cup Series for the 2013 season, representing 23.3% of the 43-car field on any given race day. Which further solidifies the point of Hendrick dominance within the Sprint Cup Series.

    The real question for everyone is whether, NASCAR should step in and limit technical alliances, or is this kind of dominance good for the sport and it’s future growth?

  4. It’s sad knowing what has become of D.E.I., it really is. This was once Dale Earnhardt’s team, he created strickly for him and his family. But, who would have ever thought that Teresa would run it into the ground like this. I hope she is happy now. I guess he should hev gave Dale Jr. that 51% ownership of the family team. As a matter of fact, kind of wish Dale would have just stayed at D.E.I. anyways. If that were to happen, I know we all wouldn’t be having this conversation, that is for damn sure. Now that Chip Ganassi has came in, he has really made things worst for the team. Almost going to Dodge, now he has Hendrick engines? Not sure what his problem is really. Might as well slap all the Earnhardt fans across the face too, huh? Richard Childress and Teresa Earnhardt formed Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines specifically for D.E.I. and R.C.R. They formed it so the two teams can work more closer together. But hey, Chip is in charge now, and I guess that is not his style. Did yall hear that? I think I heard Dale Earnhardt roll over in his grave…

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