No one goes it alone in NASCAR, especially when everyone is chasing the same guys
This article appears in the Feb. 22 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
13 Wins / 76 Top 10s / 11 DNFs1. Jimmie Johnson
The competition is hoping fatherhood, coming in July, will slow him down. 2. Jeff Gordon
A renewed commitment to physical fitness has the four-time champ feeling 10 years younger. 3. Mark Martin
His legendary pessimism is long gone. Funny what five wins and seven poles can do. 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
No one wants to say it's now or never for the 35-year-old. We will. It's now or never. 5. Danica Patrick
If her 12-race Nationwide stint goes well, look for a one-off Cup gig in November.
Where they're going:
When you dominate like HMS dominated in 2009, there's no up left to go. The only area for improvement is obvious -- the 88 team. Crew chief Lance McGrew has the engineering support his predecessor, Tony Eury Jr., resisted. There have also been some personnel switches involving Mark Martin's team, with whom Junior's crew shares a race shop.
Roush Fenway Racing
3 Wins / 49 Top 10s / 13 DNFs1. Carl Edwards
Nine wins in '08, zero wins in '09. His Frisbee injury is healed. Is his pride? 2. Greg Biffle
Went winless for the first time in his Cup career. He'll end that drought by April. 3. Matt Kenseth
The 2003 champ says chemistry with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer is finally all good. 4. David Ragan
A 14-spot drop in points versus '08. He can hear the free agent footsteps of Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick.
Where they're going:
New dad-to-be Edwards is ready to execute backflips once again. A renewed commitment from Ford may very well be his launching pad. "We've created this Ford superteam," says the 30-year-old. "Yates is building engines. Richard Petty Motorsports is aligned with us now. There are a lot of resources we didn't have before."
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