Final grades are in.
If you see teachers doing backflips around town, many have their exams graded, number submitted and are taking time to enjoy a winter break. Here’s a breakdown of some final grades for your favorite Sprint Cup teams this 2015 Sprint Cup season.
Joe Gibbs Racing: A
The 2015 Sprint Cup season wasn’t an easy one for Joe Gibbs Racing, but JRG eventually earned an A. That happens when your driver wins the 2015 Sprint Cup. Had the team not aced the final, JGR was probably looking at a B+ or A-. Consider the craziness this team endured:
- Kyle Busch breaks his leg.
- Denny Hamlin misses a race.
- The “Summer of Gibbs” where the team wins 70 percent of the races.
- Matt Kenseth gets suspended.
- The Carl Edwards and Darian Grubb marriage doesn’t last a full year.
In the end, JGR got its first Sprint Cup in a decade, and the team is poised to be back in that position for years to come. This feels like a 4.0 for JGR.
Stewart Haas Racing: A-
Kevin Harvick was a few seconds away from being a repeat Sprint Cup champion and had a historically good NASCAR season. Kurt Busch repositioned himself as a Chase contender. Danica Patrick secured sponsorship, even though her on track performance feels stymied. The team also found an answer to transition a retiring Tony Stewart into a sponsor’s dream in Clint Bowyer. This should keep them on the honor roll.
Hendrick Motorsports: B
Jeff Gordon crushed the final and raced for a title at Homestead. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was consistent for 36 races but sputtered at the wrong time. He also is NASCAR’s most popular driver. They get passes.
Then there’s Jimmie Johnson. Sure he won multiple races throughout the season, but there’s no way his year can be a success when getting knocked out in the first round of the Chase. Other drivers might view this as an 4.0. Johnson and Chad Knaus probably don’t see it this way. So much for a curve.
Then there’s Kasey Kahne. It’s not a surprise to see Kahne hot and cold, but this was the coldest year of Kahne’s career. Last year, you could argue it was the coldest year of Kahne’s career. Group grades matter, and Kahne’s struggles have to be a concern for Hendrick and company.
For a team with extremely high standards, the 2015 season felt a bit incomplete. With high standards come lower grades.
Next week, we will take a look at other final grades from this 2015 Sprint Cup season. Enjoy the winter break, and insert a random catchphrase here.