NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Jarrett said it’s partly attributable to the teams’ Chevrolets being improved.
“These Hendrick Motorsports teams, they have some new equipment underneath them, and that’s in the chassis area,” Jarrett said during the NASCAR America prerace show Sunday (video above). “Not much has been mentioned about it, but they’ve got some new stuff that’s helping their drivers be a lot better behind the wheel. We know they’re excellent drivers, but they didn’t have the things to get it done before, now they do.”
Chase Elliott‘s No. 9 Chevrolet also has been indicative of the uptick. After winning the team’s first stage of the season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Elliott won another stage in a seventh at Pocono, and he qualified third for today’s race at Watkins Glen International.
Elliott’s solid position in the standings — he is more than 70 points ahead of the provisional cutoff for the playoffs — should allow him to take more chances on the 2.45-mile layout with a better Camaro.
“Now he has equipment that’s allowing him to be that aggressive driver that he’s wanting to be,” Jarrett said. “He talks about wanting to get that win. But that’s helped him also, because they’ve been very patient and doing the right things the last few weeks.
“Now they have a nice cushion that will allow them to go after this (win) a little more.”
Watkins Glen will be a good barometer for Hendrick’s current speed. The team has only six top 10s in the past 10 years and only one in 16 starts over the last four years.