Hendrick Motorsports: A NASCAR Dynasty
By Chris Bruce
Updated: June 5, 2012
Hendrick Motorsports is at it again, claiming each of the last three points races. Jimmie Johnson started the streak with a historic win at Darlington. This win was number 200 all time for Hendrick Motorsports and really accentuates the longevity of their legacy. But Hendrick wasn’t done there, racking up more wins. Jimmie Johnson would also win the non-points series race at the All Star Race in Charlotte. Kasey Kahne would follow that up by taking the checkered flag for his first win with Hendrick at the Coca Cola 600, and Jimmie Johnson would go on to dominate the Monster Mile at Dover for his 57th career win. Its been quite the month or so for Hendrick Motorsports.
There is certainly little need for debate amongst NASCAR fans about who the greatest driver of all time is, that would be the one, the only, Richard “The King” Petty with his records of 200 wins, seven Championships, 27 wins in one season and most starts from the pole in a career with 127 – eat your heart out Ryan Newman. But this article is not about who the greatest driver is, it is about the greatest team in NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports.
Many of the biggest names and best drivers have driven for the Hendrick team over the years. The roster of current and former Hendrick drivers is a virtual “who’s who” of NASCAR history over the last 28 years:
- Ricky Rudd, Terry Labonte, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, and now Kasey Kahne, who have piloted the #5 car to a total of 33 wins.
- During the late 1980′s the #17 car that now belongs to Roush Fenway, was a Hendrick Chevrolet. During his four-year stay Darrell Waltrip AKA DW took the #17 Tide car to victory lane nine times including his biggest win, the 1989 Daytona 500.
- During his run with Hendricks, Jeff Gordon has made the #24 Hendrick Chevrolet famous, and has won almost all the major races including the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 at Indy, Coca Cola 600, Talladega, on his way to capturing 85 wins and 4 Championships.
- The larger than life personality Tim “Hollywood” Richmond took the Folgers #25 to victory lane 9 times in 37 races in 1986 and 1987, “Hollywood” unfortunately passed away in August of 1989.
- In 2008 the #25 became the #88 and welcomed the sport’s most famous son, Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the team. Since joining Hendrick; Junior has finished 12th, 26th, 21st and 7th in the points series with one win in the 88.
- And that brings us to arguably Hendrick’s best driver, Jimmie Johnson who has 5 championships and 57 wins in the #48 Hendrick Chevrolet. In addition to that, his accomplishments include winning the Daytona 500 and Coca Cola 600, all while winning at least one race per year in each of the last 11 seasons.
Every sport has had its dynasties – MLB had Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees in the late 1990s, the NHL had Gretzky’s Oilers, the Trottier’s Islanders, and the Montreal Canadiens, the NBA has had the Lakers and the Celtics, along with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, the NFL has Tom Brady and the Patriots, and Joe Montana and the 49ers. While NASCAR has always had its stars – the individual drivers who dominated the game, like Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr in the black #3. However, never before has a team dominated the sport the way Hendrick Motorsports has. This team is carrying a legacy, a dynasty, that continues to go out and win week-after-week, season-after-season, and bring home the records and titles that Hendrick Motorsports has.
With 202 wins, 13 owner’s championships, and 10 driver’s championships since Rick Hendrick started All-Star Racing in 1984 (re-named Hendrick Motorsports in 1985), and absolute domination since their first title in 1995, Hendrick just keeps rising to the top. With the team again coming into form and looking to make a real challenge for the 2012 Championship, I think its obvious that NASCAR’s dynasty is here to stay and continue frustrating other teams and drivers that are lucky enough to finish second for years to come.
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..and that is the Last Word.