Column: Hendrick Checks His Personal Bucket List | NASCAR

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) — Hendrick Motorsports began as an All-Star Racing in an outdated store with wood-panelled partitions and simply sufficient area for its eight staff.

Rick Hendrick scraped collectively sufficient cash to launch an unsponsored NASCAR staff for the 1984 season. He owned a Metropolis Chevrolet in Charlotte for simply over 5 years, however racing was his old flame, so he gave it a shot as NASCAR’s development started to stretch throughout its southern borders.

All-Star Racing nearly broke two months into its inaugural season earlier than Jeff Bodine – driver three! -Save the season and hold the wheels turning the way in which they’re now The winningest group in NASCAR historical past.

Bodine’s victory at Martinsville within the eighth race of the 1984 season cemented the bond with Common Motors that introduced Hendrick to the highest of two completely different industries. The Hendrick Automotive Group is the biggest privately owned auto dealership group in the US, and Hendrick Motorsports is NASCAR’s model of the New York Yankees.

Hendrick Stadium has at all times been NASCAR’s go-to. Solely to NASCAR, drivers have by no means been allowed to cruise in different sequence. They’re extremely compensated for driving Hendrick Chevrolets and Hendrick did not need to get harm whereas finishing up his vainness initiatives.

Effectively, Hendrik is now 73 years outdated and his drivers – younger sufficient to be his grandchildren – need to race something with wheels. With vastly improved security options, Hendrick has eased up and now permits his drivers to stretch their legs a bit.

Subsequent? Indianapolis 500.

Rick Hendrick, the boss who barely allowed his drivers to journey bikes throughout the NASCAR season, agreed to let it go Kyle Larson racing the Indy 500. Larson will attempt to “double up” and race each the Coca-Cola 600—a house race that is virtually held inside screaming distance of Hendrick Motorsports’ sprawling campus—and the Indy 500 on the identical day in late Could.

Much more fascinating is that Hendrik will likely be a co-owner of the automobile. And that can come as he is additionally sending considered one of NASCAR’s new next-generation automobiles to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

That is proper, Hendrick, a hardcore NASCAR participant with 14 Cup Sequence titles, crosses racing off his bucket checklist. His change in method to his drivers has given his boss the chance to work outdoors of normal automobiles and in true Hendrik kind, he would not fiddle.

Hendrik has used his deep sources and put his greatest folks into giving him the possibility to race on the largest phases on the earth. Jimmie Johnson has helped Hendrick get into endurance races within the IMSA sports activities automobile program for the final two seasons. The hassle was run by Chad Knauss and certain, IMSA is owned by NASCAR, but it surely was one thing completely different and Hendrick gave the pores and skin within the recreation on the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Twelve Hours of Sebring.

That opened discussions a couple of NASCAR undertaking particular for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race this June. NASCAR wished to indicate its new next-generation automobile in a particular class, and Hendrick stated he would handle the trouble with Common Motors.

The deal initially angered rivals who had been fast to overhaul the Le Mans undertaking giving Hendrick’s workers unfair entry to the subsequent technology. There at the moment are knowledge sharing agreements in place and Hendrick is already going to Le Mans with a squad that’s anticipated to incorporate Johnson.

Final week phrase got here out that Hendrik has let Larsson go to Indy in 2024 with McLaren Racing, with Hendrik listed as co-owner and as a sponsor. It’s a partnership with Common Motors and McLaren Racing, which is run by American Zack Brown.

Brawn and Jeff Gordon, each racers initially from California, put Larson’s deal collectively whereas Gordon now handles lots of Hendrick Motorsports’ day-to-day offers. Brown is a giant dreamer open to any concept, and the chance to deliver Rick Hendrick to “racing’s best spectacle” was one value pursuing.

Larson was the golden ticket as a result of it is Larson’s dream race, and Larson has pressed Hendrick and Gordon for an opportunity to race the Indy 500 since becoming a member of the staff in 2021. Brown hit when Hendrick was most susceptible.

“Kyle made it clear to me that he would like to do it. I by no means thought it will occur,” Hendrik stated.

The actual draw is that in any case these years Hendrick is now getting an opportunity to expertise motorsports away from the NASCAR ovals. He has already experimented with sports activities automobile racing in North America and can begin racing internationally in June; It was grime racing and short-track racing and he raced for enjoyable, and now he will attempt to win the Indy 500.

“For me to do that with Chevrolet, I’ve at all times wished to be with a superb staff if we ever did,” stated Hendrik. “To have the ability to accomplice with McLaren and have Hendrick Automobiles on it’s one thing particular for me and our complete group. A bucket checklist for any racer.”

Prior to now, the well-known Hendrick Bucket Listing was the automobile supplier’s apparent motto: “Win on Sunday, promote on Monday.”

Now he desires to win at Daytona. And Indianapolis, too.

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