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Tag:Rick Hendrick
Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:24 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 2:30 pm

Hopes high at Hendrick Motorsports

By Pete Pistone

  Rick Hendrick(R), Owner Of Hendrick Motorsports, And Jimmie Johnson, Driver Of The #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet,
(Johnson is hungry to bring Hendrick another Sprint Cup Series championship in 2012 - Getty Images)

Jack Roush
put his entire stable of then five Sprint Cup Series drivers into the 2005 Chase field. 

NASCAR has since forced team owners to dial back to a four-car operation, but Rick Hendrick believes there’s no reason why his whole fleet can’t make this year’s playoffs. 

Optimism always runs high at this time of the season as organizations prepare for the upcoming campaign. But Hendrick is unusually pumped up about the prospects for 2012 and what the quartet of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and newcomer Kasey Kahne can accomplish. 

I’m going to be really disappointed if we don’t have all four cars in the Chase and I’m going to be really disappointed if we don’t win the championship,” Hendrick said. “I can’t remember having four teams this solid, this strong, at the beginning of the year. 

“I think we’re as prepared as we’ve ever been and if we don’t get it, it's going to be our fault.” 

After a season that saw Johnson’s five year reign as Sprint Cup Series champ come to a halt, the entire Hendrick group seems to be re-energized to put the team back on top again in 2012. 

Hendrick’s positive outlook that the goal can be accomplished in due in large part to the elimination of some unknown quantities that lingered heading into the 2011 effort. 

"Looking at last year, I didn't know how Dale and (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) were going to work,” Hendrick said. “I didn't know how Jeff and (crew chief Alan (Gustafson) were going to work. I thought they would be good, and they were much better than I anticipated. 

"I had Mark (Martin), knowing it was his last year. I had Kasey waiting to come. I didn't know if we were going to get (crew chief) Kenny (Francis), and then I get Kenny and their engineer and Kasey, and they are here and they're fitting in like they've been here forever. Then all of the sudden, I know, I've got a better 88 team. I've got a better 24 team. I've got a pissed-off 48 team, and I've got a something-to-prove 5 team with a guy who had one of the best Chases of anybody. So that gives me the confidence that, if we don't blow it up, we're going to be good." 

Johnson has made no bones about the fact that he’s using last year’s result as motivation for the coming season. The anger that came from not having his name engraved on the Sprint Cup trophy for the first time in five seasons is pushing Johnson hard at the dawn of a new year. 

“Yeah, and we're pissed off at ourselves," said Johnson. "There could be a lot of good coming from this." 

Johnson sees it as a time to learn from mistakes and in a way re-invent himself as a driver. 

“Through losing the championship last year, I think I can strip some layers down and figure out how to do things differently,” he said. 

“There’s a lot that I’ve thought about and once I get into the season I’ll know more and really be able to work through those things,” Johnson continued. “But I feel like over the five years of winning championships, there are certain things, even as basic as the way I approach a weekend and the notes I take and what I do from a driver’s standpoint, that’s all been well documented. Every driver does it now. Were they doing it then? No.

“I need to find new ways to do a better job as the driver of the 48 car and that’s what this year is about for me. That’s what this offseason was about for me. Really, the first half of the season is going to be about understanding how I can do my job better.” 

Earnhardt thinks he and the entire No. 88 team can also do better. Although they made tremendous improvements last season in a performance that saw Earnhardt make the Chase and ultimately finish seventh in the final standings, the sport’s Most Popular Driver sees even more success in 2012. 

“We definitely took a step in the right direction with the changes we made last year,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I don’t know what our potential is past that, but we’re going to work hard to see if we can find it and find more and be more competitive. We were close to winning a few races and hadn’t had that in a long time.

“Working with Steve, he gave me the opportunity, whether it was our strong performance or his strategy, one way or another, he’s given me the chance I didn’t have. I felt closer to winning than I felt before.” 

Gordon was able to win and once he broke the winless drought he was engulfed in the previous season, the four-time champion showed several flashes of brilliance throughout the schedule. 

He also brings a great deal of confidence into 2012 after last season’s effort and shares his employer’s optimism about the entire organization. 

However with that view there does come a bit of stress. 

“I agree with Rick, it’s the strongest combination we’ve ever had coming into a season, and when you see that, it gives you some pretty high expectations and puts the pressure on,” Gordon said. 

Kahne and Francis don’t appear to be feeling any pressure as the new kids in the house. The duo has already made it clear they are quite at home at Hendrick turning in a very impressive Daytona testing performance last month. 

Kahne knows there will be growing pains but believes he is in the best position of his Sprint Cup career to excel.

“It definitely takes time because it's all different,” Kahne said. “The way they build the parts and pieces and the way that feels to me and the way I relay that to Kenny, that's something that takes time, and hopefully it doesn't take us too long. 

“The biggest thing is the stability and knowing that I have four years here where I just need to make the best out of it” I need to put all the effort that I have into it. It could be my best four years ever.” 

Hendrick has ten Sprint Cup championship trophies in his possession and the way he sees it not getting number eleven last season may actually have been a good thing overall.

“Getting beat sometimes is not a bad thing,” he said. “If you’re a very competitive company, you got to know you’ve got to work a lot harder to get back to where you were. So we’re motivated.” 

That could be bad news for the rest of the Sprint Cup garage area.

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Posted on: November 28, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 12:48 pm

Rick Hendrick on road to recovery

By Pete Pistone

Rick Hendrick explained last month’s harrowing incident when a Hendrick Motorsports plane skidded off a runway in Key West, Florida during a media teleconference Monday morning.

Hendrick and his wife Linda as well as two pilots on board survived the accident, which left the team owner with four broken ribs and a broken shoulder.

“You don’t remember everything exactly how it happened. Just for a second or two, that’s about all you’ve got you sense something was wrong,” Hendrick recalled. “But then it happened so quick, it goes so fast that you don’t have time to hardly react.”

The Hendricks are recovering at their home after initially spending more than a week in a North Carolina medical facility.

“Trying to sleep and move and getting therapy takes most of the day,” Hendrick said of the recovery process. “My wife is doing good. She busted her leg up, but I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I don’t bounce back quite as quick.

“We’re doing good. I’m just going to probably take it easy for a few more weeks and continue to do my therapy. I am able to sleep now at night, where I slept in a chair for three weeks. That’s no fun.”

The Gulfstream G150 lost its brakes upon landing in the October 31 accident and Hendrick explained what took place inside the cabin.

“My belt was on, and something came loose in the seat itself,” Hendrick said. “I hit the bulkhead and my wife. My chest and head went into the seat in front of me and that’s where I got my ribs and I had a concussion.”

The plane was co-owned by Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson and the National Transportation Board is still conducting an investigation to uncover more details.

“We were very fortunate,” Hendrick said. “We’re glad that it wasn’t any worse than it was. We’re healing up. We don’t have any of the answers yet on exactly what happened there, but there’s a lot of smart people involved and we’ll get that figured out pretty soon, I hope.”

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: November 2, 2011 3:50 pm

Hendrick hospitalized with four broken ribs

Posted by Pete Pistone

Rick Hendrick's physical condition following the plane mishap he was involved in earlier this week turned out to be worse than originally diagnosed.

Hendrick is being treated for four broken ribs as well as other bruises in a Charlotte medical center. Hendrick Motorsports released this release updating the situation regarding the NASCAR team owner:

Upon returning home to Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, Mr. Hendrick was further evaluated as a precautionary measure by his personal physician. He was diagnosed with four broken ribs (previously stated as one broken rib), a broken clavicle (as previously stated) and bruising. No other injuries have been identified. Due to discomfort from the injuries, Mr. Hendrick was admitted Tuesday afternoon to a medical facility in the Charlotte area, where doctors believe the pain can most effectively be managed. He is in good spirits and is expected to be released by the end of the week.

Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports: "Linda and I have been overwhelmed by all the words of encouragement and genuine concern we've received. We are blessed to have such a wonderful support system, and our family is extremely grateful for the thoughts and prayers. We extend our sincere thanks to everyone. I'm so proud of how our pilots handled the situation, and we're extremely appreciative of the folks in Key West who went above and beyond to help us. It's good to be back in Charlotte as we regroup and focus on our family. 

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:51 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:30 am

Rick Hendrick involved in plane crash

By Pete Pistone

Team owner Rick Hendrick and his wife Linda were among four people on board a private plane that ran off the runway Monday evening in Key West, Florida.

According to a Hendrick Motorsports statement, early Monday evening a Gulfstream G150 ran off the runway after experiencing braking issues upon landing at Key West International Airport.

There were no life threatening injuries to any of the four people on board including two pilots as well as the Hendricks. All four were taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

Rick Hendrick was diagnosed with a broken rib and a broken clavicle, and Linda Hendrick was treated for minor cuts and bruises. 

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: September 1, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 12:47 pm

Hendrick the only place for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Image Detail

(Earnhardt will remain in the No. 88 entry through the 2017 Sprint Cup Series season)

By Pete Pistone

Dale Earnhardt Jr. staying at Hendrick Motorsports probably doesn’t qualify as breaking news but rather in the "what took so long?" category.

Discussions about Junior and Rick Hendrick remaining together were in the garage area as far back as the beginning of summer and it was only a matter of time before the paperwork was finished to keep Earnhardt in the No. 88 for the next five years. 

Unlike Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer, who have both been in or are currently involved contract negotiations for their Sprint Cup futures, Earnhardt never seemed bothered by the details of his employment future or where things might lead. 

“They're obviously one of the best places in the garage — if not THE best team in the garage to be with — and I wouldn't want to be anyplace else,” Earnhardt said in July. “No way.” 

Earnhardt never questioned whether it would get done or not but was anxious to have things finalized if only to alleviate any unnecessary pressure as he continues to try and lock down a Chase spot. 

“I just want to get it done before we get into the offseason,” Earnhardt said. “I have another year to go, but I was sitting there and seeing how Carl (Edwards) and those guys — seeing how much attention it draws to Carl and those guys — and me, when I was in my last contract year. 

“I was like, ‘Hey, Rick, let's knock this out and we won't have to worry about it next year. You just tell me what you want to do. If you want to keep me as your driver, I'm happy to stay. I'm really happy where I'm at and if that's the way you feel, let's go ahead and do it. Why wait until next year? 'Cause the press wants to know what's going on and we won't have to worry about that.'” 

Even Hendrick was pleased at how well things went and that the two sides were able to formalize what both had hoped for in relatively easy terms. 

“We’re excited to have everything formalized and announced,” said Hendrick. “Junior and I had a handshake agreement months ago, and we let other people work out the finer points from there. It was as simple and smooth as it gets.’’ 

Thursday’s announcement that Earnhardt will stay with Hendrick for the next five years now eliminates any speculation and allows the team to focus on the matter at hand – finally ending his now more than three-year winless drought and finding his way back to the NASCAR playoffs. 

Both of those goals seem to be within Earnhardt’s reach considering the way his season has gone and the turnaround in performance from his previous campaigns at Hendrick, which for of the 2008 season’s first half have been more than disappointing. 

But the combination of crew chief Steve Letarte and Earnhardt has proven to be a good one and although performance has somewhat tapered off in recent weeks the decision by Hendrick to pair the two was one of his wisest. 

They may be polar opposites from a public perception – the quiet and soft-spoken Earnhardt with Letarte’s outgoing personality and mile-a-minute mouth – but the duo is on the absolute same page in preparation and execution. 

Earnhardt hasn’t had this kind of communication, or performance for that matter, since he was teamed up with Tony Eury Jr. and Sr. and maybe more than anything that comfort level is translating to better results on the racetrack. 

Make no mistake about it, even in this tightly wound financial atmosphere of today’s NASCAR Earnhardt could choose any team in the area to join. He’s one of the few drivers left in the sport that can attract a sponsor in a heartbeat and there isn’t one organization out there that wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to bring him on board whether it had an open seat or not.

But staying right where he’s been for nearly four years was the right decision for Earnhardt and locking him down until 2017 a brilliant move for Hendrick.

This was the ultimate no brainer all the way around.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @ppistone on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


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Posted on: August 8, 2011 5:10 pm

Rick Hendrick's mother Mary passes away

Posted by Pete Pistone

From Team News Release

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Mary Hendrick, mother of Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, passed away Monday afternoon at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Mrs. Hendrick, a native of Palmer Springs, Va., was 88.

Fondly referred to as “Miss Mary,” Mrs. Hendrick was the car owner of the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 2005-2007. In 2008, she became the owner of the No. 5 Chevrolet. She won seven races as a car owner, with Mark Martin notably recording five of those wins during the 2009 season. That year, Martin drove the No. 5 Chevrolet to a runner-up finish in the championship standings, giving Mrs. Hendrick her best season as a car owner.

In June 2004, Gov. Mike Easley presented Papa Joe and Mary Hendrick with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine - the state of North Carolina’s highest honor bestowed on a citizen for dedication and extended length of service to his or her organization.

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 26, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 3:48 pm

Hendrick wants shorter races and season

Posted By Pete Pistone

CONCORD, N.C. - Add Rick Hendrick to the list of people within the NASCAR community who believe there's a need for shorter races and a more compressed season. The ten-time Sprint Cup winning car owner made the comments during the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour on Wednesday.

"I absolutely think the races ought to be shorter and the season ought to be shorter," said Hendrick.

Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. agreed with his team owner to an extent and said the length of races is "like the pink elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about."

Discussion about shortening events to help increase fan interest and perhaps generate higher television ratings came up this week when FOX Sports president David Hill told reporters he'd like to see race lengths no more than four hours at most.

In recent years some tracks have cut the distance of races including Dover International Speedway lopping off 100 miles to both its spring and fall events and Auto Club Speedway shortening its now only Sprint Cup event to 400 miles.

There has been no indication NASCAR has any immediate plants to cut the schedule from its current 36-race slate, which runs from February to November.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or