Affable businessman Rick Hendrick has already celebrated his 25th anniversary as a team owner. One of the most successful in his role in the history of the sport, Hendrick boasts a lengthy list of wins and titles. He’s developed some of the top talent in the sport over the years and revolutionized the way the multi-car team would operate. His achievements are wide-reaching, and here’s a look at five that could make him a NASCAR Hall of Famer.
Hendrick battled leukemia in 1996, a fight that has marked his charity endeavors since that time. He spends some of this off-track time promoting awareness of research and helping patients suffering from leukemia and other blood diseases through his work with the Hendrick Marrow Program, which was established in 1997.
Success beyond Cup
Hendrick also has three championships in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The team owner first made his mark there with driver Jack Sprague. The pair won the 1997, 1999 and 2001 titles in the series. Overall he has 12 owner titles, a NASCAR record.
Changed the sport
Hendrick (seen talking with NASCAR Chairman Brian France) certainly isn’t the only multi-car team owner in NASCAR. In fact, that trend has become the norm these days. But Hendrick has made it work in ways that no one else has. His teams are partnered in the shops and meet on technology and other changes. For him, internal spats are not an issue and the groups work together for a common goal. Certainly they are competitive with one another, but the group tends to function — and succeed — as a unit. In numerous seasons, Hendrick has enjoyed having more than one driver contending for the title or winning multiple races. He’s found a way to make a multi-car organization function as one team.
Winner, winner, winner
Hendrick (as of June 2011) has tallied 197 Cup wins as a team owner. He has 1,294 top-10 finishes, 787 of them top fives, and his drivers have amassed 176 poles. His top-winning season came in 2007, when his drivers earned 18 wins in 36 points races (10 by Jimmie Johnson, six by Jeff Gordon and one each by Kyle Busch and Casey Mears).
Hendrick leads all team owners with 10 Cup titles. And they have come fast and furious of late, with driver Jimmie Johnson (center, holding trophy) winning the last five titles. Jeff Gordon has garnered four more titles for Hendrick while Terry Labonte has given him the other. He has 53 top-10 season finishes with his drivers and, in 2009, reached new heights when he owned the top three positions in the final standings (champion Johnson, runner-up Mark Martin and third-place finisher Gordon). It was one of Hendrick's six runner-up finishes in the series standings.