Similarly, Martin's crew chief, Alan Gustafson, is in a contract year. Martin's five wins and seven poles last year—not to mention constant praise from the driver—have elevated Gustafson's visibility and stature immeasurably.
Yes, there are loose ends, but the announcement of Kahne's signing may already have had a galvanizing effect on Hendrick's drivers.
In analyzing his decision to come to Hendrick, Kahne touted the quality of the equipment.
“You get in a car like that, and if you're not performing, then you're the problem,” Kahne said of the No. 5 Chevrolet.
Kahne's comment rang loudly in the TMS media center Friday. Perhaps it resonated with the No. 88 Hendrick team as well, given that Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose performance has lagged behind that of his prolific teammates, drove like a man possessed at Texas, leading 46 laps, finishing eighth and solidifying his position in the top 12 in the Cup standings.
“We have a lot to work on still,” Earnhardt said after the race. “We're a good team. We can be a great team, and we just have to keep working.”
Whether Kahne's signing had an effect, or whether it was simply the return to a rear spoiler at a downforce track, Earnhardt was up on the wheel.
If the addition of Kahne was an eye-opener, what might a resurgent Earnhardt be?