Give Me a Hungry Driver and I’ll Give You a Champion

#5 Kellogg's carIts been said ‘The woman makes the man.’ To which I wholeheartedly agree (especially in my life).

But, in the world of NASCAR, is it the driver that makes the car?

Or, does the car make the driver?

What is it that brings a mediocre team out of the shadows and into the chase for the NASCAR championship?

I wager it’s the hunger in the driver that produces the results. With the big ‘if’ depending on the financial resources for the team to bring a quality car to the track each week.

Compare these driver changes in the past few years.

#97/#26 Roush

2005 Kurt Busch vs. 2006 Jamie McMurray
Kurt Busch: 3 wins, 9 top-5, 18 top-10 (in only 34 races)
Jamie McMurray: 0 wins, 3 top-5, 7 top-10

#5 Kellogg’s Hendrick

2004 Terry Labonte vs. 2005 Kyle Busch
Terry Labonte: 0 wins, 0 top-5, 6 top-10
Kyle Busch: 2 wins, 9 top-5, 13 top-10

#31 Cingular Childress

2004 Robby Gordon vs. 2006 Jeff Burton
Robby Gordon: 0 wins, 2 top-5, 6 top-10
Jeff Burton: 1 win, 7 top-5, 20 top-10

#18 Fed Ex Gibbs

2005 Jason Leffler vs. 2006 Denny Hamlin
Jason Leffler: 0 wins, 0 top-5, 0 top-10
Denny Hamlin: 2 wins, 8 top-5, 20 top-10

#43 Cheerio’s Petty

2005 Jeff Green vs. 2006 Bobby Labonte
Jeff Green: 0 wins, 0 top-5, 0 top-10
Bobby Labonte: 0 wins, 3 top-5, 8 top-10

Then you have teams like the #22 (Bill Davis Racing), #49 (BAM Racing), #4 (Morgan-McClure Motorsports), #40 & #41 (Chip Ganassi Racing), #66 (Haas CNC Racing) who struggle through driver change after driver change in search of the winning combination.

The phrase ‘chemistry between the driver and crew’ is always thrown out there as the reason a team makes a good run. Is that really what turns a team around? Does the owner suddenly throw all his money and resources into a new driver/team combination? Is it a matter of talent?

What do you think?”