Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

You get the sense that Rick Hendrick wants to quote Mark Twain by saying the reports of his team’s death are greatly exaggerated. The results of the Southern 500 suggest that HMS needs some life support. Gel up the defibrillators.

At Darlington, HMS didn’t appear in the results until the eighth spot when Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke the tape. The much-maligned Kasey Kahne (maligned due to his un-Chase-iness) was the next-best HMS driver, finishing in 12th. Jeff Gordon took 16th, and Jimmie Johnson, the four-time race winner, finished in 19th.

“People catch up; people work hard,” Hendrick said in Kenny Bruce’s story. “Rule package, rule changes, usually we’re on top of it and we come out in front. To think that you can be in this sport every single year and be the dominant guy that wins them all, that isn’t going to happen. NASCAR isn’t going to let that happen.”

So it appears Hendrick is implying that NASCAR is trying to neuter the powerful HMS garage.

An HMS driver hasn’t won a race since July 5 when Earnhardt won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.

Looking at the best drivers right now, the favorites for the Sprint Cup hail from Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing. Then, in fourth place, is Hendrick.

“I don’t like it when we’re behind, but it motivates me,” Hendrick said, per Bruce. “We’ve just got to work hard, work smart and we’ll be back.”

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