Tony Stewart has visited victory lane two times this year, with Sunday's win at Pocono. Under normal circumstances this should be quite an achievement for a brand new team. It's too bad this new team owner/driver can't even celebrate in victory lane without NASCAR's very own version of the Blob, Rick Hendrick, mooching over to take credit for the wins. Both times, Hendrick has managed to move in and try and grab credit for Tony's wins. One would think Hendrick's massive ego is fed enough with his prima donna ultra teams of Gordon and Johnson (funded by Hendrick's multi-millions of dollars poured into the outfit)? Add to that his masterminding of getting Dale Jr. away from Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI), by suggesting the powerplay that ultimately led to Junior departing from DEI and managing to paint Teresa Earnhardt as the villain at the same time--well, you get the idea. Hendrick must fancy himself quite the Machiavelli of NASCAR. He's virtually running the front office of NASCAR as well, judging by the way NASCAR toadies up to him. Hopefully, some day Dale Jr. will realize how he has been played by Hendrick. No doubt the idea of getting NASCAR's most popular driver for the past several years into his stable of young men had Hendrick salivating. This move has also effectively alienated a lot of fans and there is not a noticeable 'sea of Amp green' in the grandstands like there used to be a sea of Budweiser red. NASCAR folks will tell you it's because Junior isn't winning. There's a lot more to it than that. Even P.T. Barnum said, 'you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.'
How much credit does this convicted felon need? What kind of massive ego is housed in that portly body? It's pretty pathetic to see him horning in on Stewart's time in the spotlight. Add to that how neatly Hendrick took over Dale Jr.'s JR Motorsports and moved in to make that his own, and you begin to wonder what kind of meglomaniac this guy is. He is openly skirting NASCAR's team limit by providing engines to Stewart-Haas racing--in effect, he has at least 6 Cup teams under his umbrella by being so closely involved.
There is plenty of information online about Hendrick's conviction in the Honda Bribery Scandal and how he managed to avoid jail time with a mysterious form of leukemia which has since been apparently cured. Just google "Rick Hendrick Honda Convicted Felon" and you'll get all the information you can use. For example:
Largest US Honda Dealer Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud
Seattle Times, 8/14/1997
ASHEVILLE, N.C.-- Rick Hendrick, one of the nation's biggest auto dealers and owner of a top stock-car racing team, pleaded guilty to mail fraud today in a case in which he was accused of making hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to American Honda executives. The mail-fraud charge was one of 15 against Hendrick in a 1996 federal indictment that alleged a conspiracy to build his dealership empire by buying favorite treatment from the auto supplier. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 10 to 16 months and a $250,000 fine and agreed to allow Hendrick, 48, to serve the time in home detention because he is being treated for leukemia.
Racing fans should be asking--if someone can manage to avoid jail time in a scandal in which hundreds of thousands of dollars changed hands, what is keeping this same type of thing from happening in NA$CAR? What, indeed?