The recent news of Kurt Busch possibly going to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season is interesting in many ways. For Busch it could be a fresh start to a career that became un-railed after the 2011 season. For the organization Busch brings another talented driver to an already stacked 2014 lineup that will include Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart as well as Busch if he decides to sign there.
However, there might be one member of the Stewart-Haas Racing team that may not be so thrilled that Busch would be coming to the organization. That team member is Danica Patrick.
Patrick has had a tough 2013 season. She currently sits 27th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. Aside from her 8th place finish in the season opening Daytona 500, she has yet to register a top ten finish. She has just four top 15 finishes in 23 starts in the 2013 season. It's safe to say Patrick has been a huge disappointment and there appears to be no end in sight.
When you think about the obstacles she endured in the 2013 season they could be nothing compared to what she may endure in the 2014 season. You see there is no doubt Patrick would be the fourth best driver at Stewart-Haas Racing, should Kurt Busch sign with the team. For expect Patrick to out race drivers like Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch would just be unfair. Patrick would have the same equipment, engines and basic set up as her three teammates. She would have to outrun her teammates every week.
You have to wonder if Patrick is in a sort of death trap with Stewart-Haas Racing. No one could blame Tony Stewart for hiring the best drivers available, as a car owner in the Sprint Cup Series he has every right to do so. Patrick will never have better equipment or horsepower than three-time champion Tony Stewart or Kevin Harvick, both who have a lot more experience and talent than she does. There is no advantage she will have over her teammates.
It's an interesting situation that Patrick is in. While she is getting the best equipment and engines in the sport, there is no doubt she has a tough road ahead. It will really hamper her later in her career and who would have thought that when she signed with Stewart-Haas Racing two years ago.
Patrick's situation is unique but she is not the only driver in the Sprint Cup Series with this issue.
NASCAR's most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr is in a similar situation at Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt is teammates with four time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon and five time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. He is also teammates with Kasey Kahne, who has become one of NASCAR's best drivers.
That's a tall task asking anyone to go out and beat those three drivers in virtually identical race cars. Especially since Earnhardt is housed with the #48 team, which features a combo of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus, who have been known as NASCAR's best crew chief/driver combination in the sport.
That makes Earnhardt's task daunting. Earnhardt's best year of his career came in the 2004 season when Earnhardt won six races and finished third in the championship standings that season. Earnhardt was with Dale Earnhardt Incorporated that season, a team that was in their prime in the mid-2000's. Their engine packages were top notch as were their race cars and Earnhardt's team may have been the best in the business that season.
His team was stronger than every car at Hendrick Motorsports that season. Everything on that team was better. The advantage Earnhardt had over that team in the 2004 season is now completely gone and has been since Earnhardt joined the organization in the 2008 season.
Could that be part of the reason why Earnhardt only has two wins with Hendrick Motorsports? He has to go out and beat Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus in identical equipment. The only advantage Earnhardt and his team could gain over the #48 team would be to out run the #48 team on a week to week basis.
Johnson lost the championship in the 2012 season to Brad Keselowski. Keselowski openly admitted that he felt he had the best team in the sport in 2012 and he could have been right. The engines at Penske Racing last season were great and they were doing something different than their Hendrick Motorsports opponent.
That's an advantage that Earnhardt nor Patrick will have over any driver at Hendrick Motorsports or Stewart-Haas Racing. It makes you wonder if they're in a death trap.
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