While we wait here, patiently waiting upon the return of NASCAR, or even sports in general, we need to fill the gap with information. What better than getting to know the drivers behind the wheel of all the stock cars? Whether they are your favorite, a teammate of your favorite, or you just want to know who’s a part of the team, this is for you. Today we take a look inside Hendrick Motorsports.
We need to start with the baseline, what is Hendrick Motorsports and who is it owned by/run by? Hendrick Motorsports is co-owned by three people, Rick Hendrick (primary), Linda Hendrick (secondary), and former driver for the company Jeff Gordon. Rick has owned the company since its opening in 1984 and has seen many accomplished drivers throughout their careers. Just to get an idea, these drivers include:
- Geoffrey Bodine
- Ricky Rudd
- Kyle Busch (for a short period of time)
- Mark Martin
- Darrell Waltrip
- Jeff Gordon
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Jimmie Johnson
And so many more.
This team was the name of consistency and ability for many of its years. This in part due to Jimmie Johnson’s 7 championships and counting. The team has always found its way to bring in young talent and seems to have a knack for it as it has almost always worked out for the team. In the NASCAR cup series, Hendrick Motorsports has racked in 12 championships and 257 wins. These 12 championships come from Jimmie Johnson’s previously mentioned 7, Jeff Gordon’s 4, and Terry Labonte’s 1.
Jimmie Johnson (#48)
When bringing up Hendrick Motorsports and their legacy, any rational person would mention Johnson among the top drivers. Johnson is currently tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. for the most cup series championships at 7. The part about this that is spectacular, is that he is still competing full time in the sport, and is still eligible to get the elusive 8th cup. He has, at one time or another, driven with a team of amazing people who have helped him along the way, whether it be on or off the track.
I think the most impressive and showing statistic of his career is as follows. He is currently 6th in all-time NASCAR cup wins, at 83. This may not seem impressive until you realize every member in the top 10 of this list is members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This is the list in order:
- Richard Petty (200 wins) HOF
- David Pearson (105 wins) HOF
- Jeff Gordon (93 wins) HOF
- Darrell Waltrip (84 wins) HOF
- Bobby Allison (84 wins) HOF
- Jimmie Johnson (83 wins) Current Driver
- Cale Yarborough (83 wins) HOF
- Dale Earnhardt Sr. (76 wins) HOF
- Rusty Wallace (55 wins) HOF
- Lee Petty (54 wins) HOF
This just begins to show the level of accomplished racers Johnson is being accompanied by, the all-time greats. Johnson has been relatively quiet as a driver, not normally blowing up at people or being cocky, he just drives and lets it do the talking. This is one of the most admirable qualities of a driver, as so very few have it. He understands how to drive aggressively, but not be an aggressive person. Regardless of what happens in the continuation of his career, he has guaranteed enshrinement in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Chase Elliott (#9)
At only 24 years old, Chase has shown many flashes of his potential as a NASCAR driver. Being the only son of racing legend Bill Elliott, Chase has some large shoes to fill in terms of his driving career. Chase has had more years of experience however than the next two drivers on the Hendrick Motorsports list, having almost 6 years of NASCAR cup series experience.
Chase has had one of the best starts to a NASCAR career that anyone could have asked for. In 6 years, he has run 153 cup series races, 6 of which he has won, and 76 of which he has come in the top 10. This means nearly half of the races he has competed in, he has finished within the top 10 or won.
Chase’s list of accomplishments and awards goes on and on, considering he still is one of the younger drivers in this series. He won the Nationwide Series championship in 2014 (he was only 19 years old at the time). He is also the youngest driver to win at 3 different racetracks, those including Dover International Speedway, Kansas Speedway, and Darlington Speedway. This is quite the accomplishment, as many NASCAR drivers start around the age that Chase did, however, he was the youngest to win those tracks.
He also has a small collection of awards not including his victories. This consists of his 2014 rookie of the year in the Nationwide Series, 2014-2015 Xfinity Series most popular driver, 2016 Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year, and the most popular driver in the Monster Energy Series both in 2018 and 2019.
Chase is definitely one piece of the future of Hendrick Motorsports, and in the long run, could surpass his father’s legacy if he continues to perform.
William Byron (#24)
William Byron is another driver who has a legacy to step into, except for a completely different reason than Chase. Byron is driving the car of former Hendrick Motorsports legend Jeff Gordon, who in the past few years stepped away from full-time racing. Many Jeff Gordon fans were upset with the retirement conditions (not winning a championship due to certain circumstances), so the shoes Byron is stepping into are hard to fill.
Byron is definitely one of the more interesting drivers in the sport, maintaining consistency throughout his career so far and climbing throughout the NASCAR series in order. He started off in the Camping World Truck Series, in which he finished top 10 in 2 out of every 3 of his races (66.7%). He also won 7 of the 24 races he competed in at that level. Then, Hendrick Motorsports called him up to the Xfinity Series, where he also finished top 10 2 out of every 3 races (22 top 10s in 33 races) and he won 4 of those races. Hendrick finally decided it was time for him to move even further up, after winning the championships of both the Camping World Truck Series and the Xfinity series.
Byron so far in his cup series years has driven in 76 races in 10 years. He has 18 top 10’s in that span and won the pole position in 5 of them. So far, he has not won any cup series races which is slightly concerning for the team. However, he is only 22 years of age so he has a lot of time to learn.
Another interesting award statistic is that he has won rookie of the year in every series he has raced in. This includes the K&N Pro Series East (2015), the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (2016), NASCAR Xfinity Series (2017), and the Monster Energy Cup Series (2018). These awards go to show how much potential Byron has, and how well he has consistently performed regardless of series or team.
Alex Bowman (#88)
Alex Bowman is probably the most on and off driver for this team. He has had his impressive races and has been relatively consistent throughout his cup series races, however, his stats don’t show his capability. The other issue is, he is also filling the role of another Hendrick Motorsports legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. This ends up making his driving ability “put under a microscope” by everyone watching as he has to be capable enough to prove himself in that role.
After only driving in 2 Camping World Truck Series races in 2 years, he was called into the Xfinity series to see what he was capable of. After racing in Xfinity for 7 years, winning 1 race and getting 15 top 10’s, a team by the name of BK Racing called him up to the cup series. He performed well enough there to warrant taking over a spot in Hendrick Motorsports and filling out the last roster spot.
Currently, Bowman is the 2nd oldest driver on the team at 26, which goes to show how young Hendrick Motorsports has become in the last few years. This is a good thing, as Bowman still has a lot to prove at this level. He has shown glimpses of greatness, as his second career win he led for 110 laps and beat out racing phenom Kyle Busch by a 9-second margin. 9 seconds in racing is a huge distance as the drivers are traveling between 170-200 miles per hour.
Bowman has 2 wins at this level, 27 top 10’s, and even won the pole position at the Daytona 500. He has shown that he can race and remain in the top half of racers currently competing, however, he has some learning to do as a driver, which almost everyone on this team currently does. He has raced in 157 races with these stats, which realistically is not that bad but there is room for improvement before anyone starts to see him on the level of some of Hendrick’s former drivers.
Who is your favorite drive from Hendrick Motorsports? Leave a comment below.
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