Past, present HMS drivers, crew chiefs share memories

For NASCAR fans who were completely cut off from the racing community this past weekend, and perhaps, have not reconnected yet, Hendrick Motorsports finally captured its 200th Sprint Cup Series win Saturday night with Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 teams victory in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

In the time since, current and past competitors who spent at least part of their racing careers at HMS have spoken about their memories of racing with Hendrick Motorsports and car owner, Rick Hendrick.

Here are a few of them (as compiled from press releases sent out earlier in the week)

DRIVERS:

GEOFF BODINE, DRIVER, NO. 5 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 1984-1989

(ON MEMORIES OF HIS TIME WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “I have so many memories. Being the first driver for Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports, I feel really proud of where Hendrick Motorsports started from and where they’re at today. I know I didn’t put one block in place in any of those buildings, but I still have that feeling of a being a little bit responsible for what’s standing over there. It’s a great feeling. I see those cars go out on the track, and no matter which one it is, I’m proud to say I’m the guy who got all that started when I won with Rick and Harry Hyde.”

BODINE (ON WINNING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS’ FIRST RACE AT MARTINSVILLE, VA., IN 1984.): “Rick and Linda (Rick Hendrick’s wife) weren’t at the racetrack. They were at a church event somewhere near Greensboro (N.C.). Of course, back in those days, we didn’t have cell phones, so we won the race and couldn’t even tell anybody; had no way to get ahold of Rick, but he found out through his mother (Mary Hendrick). She was at home, I believe. So Rick and Linda decided to celebrate. My celebration was I went with my family to Clarence’s Steakhouse, which is a couple miles from Martinsville Speedway, and had dinner. But Rick and Linda, they went down to Julian, N.C., and toilet-papered the trees at my house. Driving in that driveway and seeing the decorations was a lot of fun. We had a big laugh about that, and I think it was more of an impact than if we had been able to call them on the cell phone and tell them we won.”

BODINE (ON HELPING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACH 200 WINS.): “Two hundred wins in NASCAR is an incredible accomplishment. It’s something to really be proud of. To be a part of that is really nice; to be the first winner is even better. It’s really special to be part of someone else’s success. I had success along the way, too, but to be part of seeing someone else have such great success really fills your heart up because what it’s all about is helping people. Really, I’m just proud to be a part of Rick’s success, and his success isn’t over. Hendrick Motorsports is going on and on and on. More championships and more wins, I’m sure. Two hundred is just a step in the history they’re going to make at Hendrick Motorsports.”

BODINE (ON RICK HENDRICK AS A CAR OWNER.): “I’ll never forget when Harry Hyde called me up in 1983, and said, ‘Bodine, I’ve got a guy you need to meet. He’s a car dealer down here in Charlotte at City Chevrolet named Rick Hendrick, and we’re putting together this NASCAR team, and we want to talk to you about driving.’ Harry said, ‘You’re not going to meet a nicer gentleman, more honest, handshake-kinda-deal guy. He’ll tell you one thing, but he always produces a lot more than he tells you. You need to come down here and meet him.’ And that’s Rick. Harry Hyde nailed it right on the head. He under-commits and overproduces. He’s a handshake kinda guy, does what he says, and I think that’s a big key to his success. There’s a lot more, but in a nutshell, that’s the key to anybody’s success. If you can be trusted with your word and always do more than what you say you’re going to do, then you’re going to succeed in life, and Rick certainly has done that.”

BODINE (ON WINNING THE 1986 DAYTONA 500.): “We qualified well — second. But I spun out in the qualifying race. Fortunately, I didn’t hit anything, and I’ll never forget that Bill France Jr. came over after the 125 (qualifying race) and said, ‘Hey, Lucky. How’re you doing?’ I said, ‘What do you mean lucky?’ He said, ‘Yeah, you were lucky sliding off Turn 4 and not hitting anything.’ I said, ‘Well, Mr. France, I thought I was just good.’ So we chuckled about that.

“But that was a close call. That was my first race with crew chief Gary Nelson, so that’s hard to think that you’re going to go race NASCAR’s biggest track, the biggest race with a new crew chief, kind of a new team and have any kind of success. But we were fast, and we knew it. And after spinning in the 125, we made a few adjustments to the chassis and got it even better so we were pretty confident going into that race. We knew we had a good chance of winning. Unfortunately, for us and for everybody, there was another guy in that race that had the same plan, and that was Dale Earnhardt Sr. We ended up racing that whole race. It was a great race between us, and we actually intimidated the Intimidator that day. We pitted, got gas, and he came in a lap after we pitted. I had a great stop, in and out, and our pit crew did a good job. When he came in, he slid through the pit and then he left too early. He didn’t have a full tank of gas. So he ran out of gas with three laps to go. Of course after that race, he said, ‘I had ya. I was going to get you.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ I didn’t see it that way. But it was a great race, very strategic and intimidating. It ended up in our favor so I’m very thankful for that.”

KYLE BUSCH, DRIVER, NO. 5 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 2004-2007 (ON HIS MEMORIES WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “It was a lot of fun. I felt a lot of pressure going in. Myself, with rookie crew chief Alan Gustafson, really not sure how that relationship would work — both of us being young, both of us being rookies. But Alan was a great mentor, a really great teacher. Being able to achieve our success through our first year was awesome. Ultimately, our success coming to our first win at California Speedway on Labor Day weekend was one of the best moments of my career at Hendrick Motorsports, and still is today.”

BUSCH (ON WINNING AT CALIFORNIA IN 2005.): “Earlier in the year, I sat on my first pole with the new track record (at California in February), so I knew we had a fast car and a really good set up for that place, and I was excited to get back out there. We practiced well. We didn’t qualify great. We qualified about 25th. But I knew the car and had a really good feel for the race, so when the race started, we were clicking positions off, kind of moving up through there. I remember we had some really good pit stops, too, where we picked up some spots. If I remember right, there was a two-tire stop at one point in the race and we got track position. We were really fighting and battling with Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. I think Jeff Gordon was one of the ones during the race that we were racing along with. There were some really great moments back and forth between a couple of the guys, and what we were doing and what positions we were able to gain and how far up we would get. But all in all, I think we led the most laps. At the end of the race there was a restart with myself and Kenseth, and I remember just being able to squeak away from Matt and him not being able to catch me.

“Victory Lane afterwards was awesome. I knew where Victory Lane was at that place, so I drove right to it and got into Victory Lane. When we got there, the team was all jacked-up and everything, and when I got out of the car, one of the first people I saw was Alan, next was probably Rick (Hendrick) and of course the whole team. We were all really, really excited; throwing Gatorade and water everywhere, so pretty good moment.”

BUSCH (ON WINNING HIS FIRST CUP RACE WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “I think it’s pretty special to win your first Cup race anytime, but to win with Hendrick Motorsports was awesome because I did win with the team that I was with first.”

BUSCH (ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACHING THE 200-WIN MILESTONE.): “I think it’s pretty awesome to have an organization or company achieve 200 wins. That’s phenomenal. There are only a couple of organizations out there that have been in or either around that long or been that successful. So, for Richard Petty Motorsports to get there, for Hendrick Motorsports now to get there, it’s a special day, it’s a special moment. Of course, everybody is going to say that the 200th was the most special, but I would say that any victory is a special victory, and they all tally up to be the same in the end.”

BUSCH (ON HELPING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACH 200 WINS.): “To me, to be a part of the 200 wins, you know I have four wins there with the Sprint Cup Series; it’s awesome for me. I feel like a small part of a big prize, a big puzzle there. Obviously, Jeff (Gordon) and Jimmie (Johnson) are probably the two guys that have won the most races there for the 200 total, but I still feel a small token of appreciation there and of course I still remain friends with many of the people there at Hendrick Motorsports.”

BUSCH (ON RICK HENDRICK AS AN OWNER.): “I think Mr. Hendrick as a car owner in the sport has been a huge significance, not only to the sport of NASCAR, but of course to the following of Hendrick Motorsports and everything there. Rick has been a great individual to me; he’s always treated me with utmost respect. He’s given me the time whenever I’ve needed it or asked for it. I’ve called him and thrown some ideas by him, or what have you, so I still talk to him to today, a little bit here and there. It’s awesome to be able to have that relationship with someone that. Although you may not be working for them anymore, you can still remain friends and still talk to them.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER, NO. 88 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 2008-PRESENT (ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACHING 200 WINS.): “I think a good way to explain it would be through great bands — great rock bands like REM or Aerosmith or the Rolling Stones. They are a perfect example. There are only a few talented groups like that that have longevity and continue to be successful and put out amazing work for years and years and years. And sure, there are a lot of guys that come in and have success for five or 10 years, but rare is it that a group can come in and be great for multiple decades, and I think that’s one way to measure what Hendrick has been able to accomplish in motor sports.

“Rick’s desire and passion have kept him around the sport for a long time, and his ability to build leadership and put the right people in the right places has led to that experience being entirely successful from the start. I think Rick will be able to maintain that type of success and that level of success as long as he cares to. You know, as big as this company is, it’s not going anywhere in the next 50 years or so. There is just too much invested. So there is no reason why it shouldn’t continue to rack up another 200, 400 wins. Who knows what the possibilities are? The people that have been able to come in and do that in this sport you can count on one hand.”

JEFF GORDON, DRIVER, NO. 24 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 1992-PRESENT (ON HIS MEMORIES WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “My experience at Hendrick Motorsports has been amazing. From the first chance I ever got to test a car, to our first race, to racing today, it’s been unbelievable. I can’t believe this is my 20th season with Hendrick. We’ve had a lot of great times, a lot of great wins. Hendrick has always provided the best equipment, the best team, the safest equipment and constantly pushing the envelope to be better in all those categories, as well as attracting great sponsors that I’ve been able to represent over the years, like DuPont, Pepsi, Quaker State, Chevrolet and Drive to End Hunger. So when I’m done racing, I’ll look back on my career and reflect. But I can tell you that getting that opportunity to meet Rick and work for Rick and Hendrick Motorsports has been one of the highlights of my life.”

GORDON (ON HIS FAVORITE WIN — THE 1994 BRICKYARD 400.): “I’ve had a lot of great memories and great wins over the years, but if I had to pick one, it would definitely be the inaugural Brickyard 400. I wasn’t born in Indiana, but I went to high school in Indiana, I raced around Indiana growing up as a kid. All I wanted to do was race at Indy someday. I never thought that that would happen in a stock car, nor did I think it would happen in a way that it did for my first experience, to go there and win the race. I just think that was a very historical moment in racing, and it’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

GORDON (ON WORKING WITH RICK HENDRICK.): “I feel like I was given a golden opportunity to come work for Rick. Rick has been a mentor to me and somewhat of a father figure that has broadened my horizons and what I’ve ever dreamed of as a race car driver and as a person. It’s been the most amazing experience to see what the organization has done, accomplished, and see how it’s grown. And to be a part of it, I’m very grateful and just thrilled to play a small role. I feel it’s a small role. There are so many people, over 500 employees, who play a role, and it never lies on one person’s shoulders. It’s that team effort. We have the most amazing team.

“Rick is that guy that doesn’t like to finish second, and he’ll do whatever takes to be No. 1, and that never stops. It doesn’t matter if you are on top of that mountain, people are trying to knock you down. He is always driving that passion to everyone around him that ‘let’s keep it going.’ And now, very seldom does he have to really go in there and give that type of speech. Those people now believe in it themselves and they spread that throughout the company, and to me that the greatest sign of a true leader, a great leader, is when the people around you eat, breathe and sleep with it the way you do.”

GORDON (ON WHY RICK HENDRICK HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL.): “First you have to have the passion. For Rick, he’s always had a passion for racing and for cars. You have to start with that, but then I think racing has really turned into a serious business. I think his business-savvy ways and his knowledge of how to operate a successful business and well-organized business has helped take that structure from the automotive side of it into the racing side of it, and vice versa. Some of the things that they’ve learned from the race teams and how to operate a race team they’ve been able to transfer over into the automotive side of it as well.”

GORDON (ON WINNING HIS FIRST CUP RACE.): “We had a great car that day. 1994 was a good year for us. We came off a ’93 win and the rookie of the year really gaining momentum on how good our car was and how good our team was. We were capable of winning, and we kept knocking on that door. We went into that race with a strong car and a strong effort that weekend. We were not the best car; I mean Rusty Wallace definitely was the car to beat that day. We were close and definitely going to finish second had Ray Evernham not made a great two-tire pit call in the closing laps. What I remember that day is coming down pit road, Ray calling for two (tires). We took two, had a good two-tire stop, got out there, and he said, ‘You’re leading this thing, and Rusty has four tires behind you.’ I just put together the best 20 to 25 laps I could possibly put together, and I never saw Rusty in my mirror so I knew we were good. It was a very emotional day for me to win my first Cup race. It is an incredible experience and something I’ll never forget.

“To get my first Cup win and to know that my Cup career has only been at Hendrick Motorsports, that to me is awesome and speaks volumes for our relationship and the experience that I’ve had at Hendrick Motorsports. From the first win to the last, every one of them has been special. I feel that in every one of them, you are out there trying to represent Hendrick Motorsports and Rick and make him proud. There is nothing better than seeing him in Victory Lane or getting that call afterwards and hearing his voice. He’s excited about every one of them.”

GORDON (ON WINNING THE 1997 DAYTONA 500 WHEN HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FINISHED 1-2-3.): “It was an intense battle on the racetrack. There was a lot of excitement knowing we were going to finish 1-2-3, but the rest of it is kind of a blur. It was emotional day. Rick couldn’t be there so that was tough. That race means so much to Rick. He’s gotten to experience what it’s like to win that race before, but to have the 1-800-MARROW2 number on the cars, as well as what he was going through, and then to be able to pull off a 1-2-3 finish and win the Daytona 500 without him being there was an incredibly emotional day. The only thing that would have been better was having him there, but to be able to send that message home to him and know that he was watching, and to speak to him afterwards, incredible.”

GORDON (ON WINNING FOUR 500s IN A ROW AT DARLINGTON, S.C.): “I love Darlington. Darlington is an incredible place to race. It’s a tough racetrack, very challenging, but a lot of history as well. You look at the names on that list who have won there and they are the greats of this sport. So anytime you do something that legends before you have done, it stands out and it means a lot to you. Darlington is always a great track for us so to be able to go there and put four in a row together is pretty amazing. It’s tough to do at that place.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON, DRIVER, NO. 48 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 2002-PRESENT (ON RACING WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “Being here and being a part of Hendrick Motorsports is so special and meaningful to me, to be a part of this family. I was close with Ricky (Hendrick), and from afar watched and admired what the company was about. I got to know Ricky a little bit before I started driving for (Hendrick Motorsports), and I really admired what he and his family were about. Everybody wants to drive for Rick (Hendrick), but I never mentioned anything to Ricky. And as time went on, I found out Ricky was working really hard behind the scenes to get the job for me. To be here for the years that I have, and to have accomplished all that I have, and I feel so much more to come, it is so special to me. It’s family. That’s what this place is about. It doesn’t matter who is interviewed that works here at Hendrick Motorsports, they have the same feeling and same thoughts. It’s family.”

JOHNSON (ON GETTING STARTED WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “The first test session I had, I was really nervous. But I had Ken Howes (vice president of competition) as a crew chief. We all know Ken and how mellow he is, so he helped me a lot with nerves when it started, and (lead chassis engineer) Rex Stump was a part of that as well, and it certainly helped me coming up. It went well. I have to say, the first three races I ran for the company were a big eye-opener for me. I had run in the top five in a (NASCAR) Nationwide race and thought, ‘Yeah, it won’t be much more difficult running Cup.’ I had no clue how much more difficult it was going to be. I mean, it wasn’t a step up, it was many steps up. So it was a big eye-opener for me. And then I came back in 2002 and started the season, and we came out swinging. We won the pole for the Daytona 500, started running well right away and got a new groove. It was frightening to look at what was ahead. Jeff (Gordon) had just come off his championship year; I was getting his car and was picked by him. I knew I had about a year to show some hope or else I was going to be unemployed. Luckily, 10th race in that year we won at my home track (Auto Club Speedway). At that point, I started to relax a little bit and felt like I’d be around a while.”

JOHNSON (ON HIS FIRST WIN.): “Yeah, rookie year (2002), first win. Home state, track. It’s the most special moment I have in motor sports. You know, now it’s crazy to look at it and say that was the defining moment for me, but it really was. No one knew who I was. I was surprised Jeff Gordon knew who I was. I was surprised Rick Hendrick was giving me this chance. I was shocked that Lowe’s was on board to sponsor me. Before I had signed my first contract, the best I had finished was sixth in a Nationwide race, and I had only been in Nationwide one season. There were plenty of articles written about, ‘What is Rick and Jeff thinking? What is going on here? Why are they picking him?’ That was my reality. I was living it, and I was shocked. I was wondering what they saw, and, as time went on, I gained my confidence and went through testing and got my rookie year started. We rolled into California and won that race, and it really gave me the confidence I needed as a driver to exist at the Cup level. Yes, it was special, but it was special for me really for how I developed as a driver from there. Your confidence is so important in our sport, and that moment locked in my confidence.”

JOHNSON (ON HOW HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS’ 200TH-WIN MILESTONE RANKS.): “From a historical standpoint, to be the winningest team out there — when we think of the Petty family and operation, really all the great operations that have been out there, and for the length of time — Rick has done a lot in a short period of time. Well, he hasn’t been here for a short period of time, he’s been here for a while. But when you think of all the things he has pioneered, from multi-car teams, taking that to the four-car level which we have today, the way he runs business, the way he’s maintained friendships and respect at the track — he’s accomplished a lot in a lot of areas. Two hundred wins is something the record books show and frame in that success. When you’re talking about the sport, 200 wins is impressive, yes, but what the company is about is more than that.”

JOHNSON (ON WINNING AT INDIANAPOLIS.): “The Brickyard is such a tough track. I think I was very fortunate to win the Daytona 500, but I find the Brickyard 400 is a little more satisfying from a driver’s standpoint because it’s not the draft. You have to carry it on your own, and you get to celebrate it with your crew in a better way than you do at the 500. At the 500, there is so much press around it that you’re off, you don’t see your guys, and you don’t celebrate. At the Brickyard 400, the team is a part of the celebration. It’s a great experience to celebrate. There’s kissing the bricks on the front stretch, riding in the Corvette around the racetrack with the team. There’s just a lot of cool things that goes with that race.”

JOHNSON (ON WINNING THE 2006 DAYTONA 500.): “It was a tough week for us. We got in trouble going through tech and lost Chad (Knaus, crew chief). And we just came off of 2005 where Chad and I basically wanted to kill each other. We did a lot of bonding and discussing and communicating through the offseason, and coming into the season it was going to be great. We go to the 500 and Chad’s gone — suspended for a period of time. Darian Grubb did an amazing job filling in, and I had to grow up at the track and figure out how I can help the crew chief, which helped our team. We went on to win a championship.”

TERRY LABONTE, DRIVER, NOS. 5 AND 44 CHEVROLETS FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 1994-2006 (ON HIS MEMORIES FROM RACING WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “It was a great organization, great team, and you’ll not find a better owner to drive for than Rick Hendrick. For us to win some races and win a championship was really incredible. To see the success that they have had with the championship with Jeff (Gordon) and Jimmie (Johnson) has been really amazing. Just the streak that Jimmie was on was incredible, so I don’t care what class of racing you’re in or what sport you’re in, any time a team can accomplish what they have is pretty amazing.”

LABONTE (ON HIS FAVORITE CUP WIN.): “I don’t know. I guess maybe the last race I won at Darlington (S.C.), the last Southern 500. They had it on Labor Day weekend (in 2003). That was pretty exciting. It was one of those typical nice and hot Darlington days, and we had a great car all weekend. In every practice we were good. We qualified good and had great pit stops at the end and came out on top. That was probably one of the ones that stands out. They all do, I guess, when you look back at them. That one, and the one in Texas at my home track. To be able to go out there and win that race was pretty exciting.”

LABONTE (ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACHING 200 WINS.): “I think it’s amazing. When you really look at the number of wins there, that’s quite an accomplishment for Hendrick Motorsports, and there are so many people that are there that made it all happen. That’s one thing — they have always worked to try to have as good of people as they could in all the key positions, so obviously it’s paid off. Rick was a guy that really got the multi-car team to where it worked. When I first went to drive for Hendrick, people told me, ‘Oh man, you shouldn’t because a multi-car team won’t work.’ Obviously Rick had a little different vision and knew how to make it work. Now if you talk to a person about a team, they don’t want to run one unless it’s a multi-car team. Rick was the guy that really showed people you can make that work. It wasn’t easy all the time getting everybody to work together, but if anybody could make it work, it was Rick.”

LABONTE (ON HELPING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACH 200 WINS.): “It’s exciting to be part of that, and you know it was just a great opportunity for me to be able to drive for Hendrick Motorsports for those years. It was really a chance of a lifetime. Everybody doesn’t get an opportunity to drive for a team that’s as good as they are and a team that has an opportunity to win a championship. That just doesn’t happen all the time.”

LABONTE (ON RICK HENDRICK AS AN OWNER.): “He’s the only guy that I’ve ever driven for that I’ve never heard anybody say anything bad about him. He really thinks a lot of the people who work for him. It doesn’t matter if you’re the top engineer or if you’re the guy who comes in in the afternoon and cleans up. He treats everybody the same, and he makes everybody feel comfortable around him. Rick just has a way that everybody feels comfortable around him and looks up to him. He could walk in there and tell everybody, ‘We’re going to go out here and shut down the interstate.’ And everybody would go. They’re going to give whatever it takes. He’s just a true leader. And a great leader can motivate people, and he doesn’t even try to motivate them. He just has a knack for it. He just motivates you by being around him.”

LABONTE (ON HIS FIRST CUP WIN WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “We went to the first race of the year, the (1994) Daytona 500, and finished third. I was so excited because I knew we had a great team, great cars. Then we went to North Wilkesboro, and it had been a few years since I had won a race, so to be able to go there and win that meant a lot to me. It’d been three or four years since I had won a race. That made me feel good, but that was exciting. Then we went on and won another race or two that year.”

MARK MARTIN, DRIVER, NO. 5 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 2009-2011 (ON RACING WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “It was just an incredible experience to be part of that organization and have the chance to work with so many really great people. I was the time of my life.”

MARTIN (ON HIS FAVORITE CUP WIN WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “Winning Phoenix (in 2009) was my favorite win with Hendrick Motorsports because most people, including myself, thought that would never happen again for me. That was really special. There was a lot of enthusiasm from everyone in the company; from the competitors and from all of the fans. It was a very special night for me, for sure.”

MARTIN (ON WHAT IT MEANS FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TO REACH THIS MILESTONE.): “It’s an incredible milestone, but it’s only one of the many incredible achievements that this organization has managed to reach. I’m one of the drivers that got to see this all happen from ground up. And it’s hard to believe (laughing). I was here when it was the one little building on the hill and Harry’s (Hyde) mobile home out here. And to see how far this organization has come and what Rick Hendrick has built, it’s incredible. I’m sure to Mr. Hendrick and to everyone here this is one of the biggest achievements that they’ve experienced. They should all be extremely proud.”

MARTIN (ON HELPING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACH 200 WINS.): “I’m very proud. It was incredibly flattering to be brought in and accepted among this group today. And to be a part of the greats that have been here — (Geoff) Bodine, (Tim) Richmond, Benny Parsons — so many greats that mean so much to this sport. It’s cool to be a part of it and to have my name listed as a winner for Hendrick Motorsports.”

MARTIN (ON RICK HENDRICK AS A TEAM OWNER.): “Getting to know Rick is better from an employee side instead of a competitor’s side. It’s been special for me. I’ve known that he was a special person and had great talents, especially his people skills. But I never knew his skills to the degree that I found out once I had a chance to work with him. It’s no wonder that once people start working here they usually never leave.”

CASEY MEARS, DRIVER, NOS. 5 AND 25 CHEVROLETS FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 2007-2008 (ON HIS MEMORIES OF RACING WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “Getting the opportunity to go work there was just awesome. It’s an unbelievable race team and great organization. But at the same time, for me, it was just exciting because I was going to be able to do a whole lot of things with my friends. To get my first win that year was amazing and working with the No. 5 team the following year was a lot of fun. I’ve always appreciated the opportunity, that’s for sure. And after working at Hendrick Motorsports, seeing how they do things, there’s really no comparison anywhere else I’ve been.”

MEARS (ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACHING 200 WINS.): “It’s just dominance really. When you think about winning that many races as a race team. I think leading in this day and age is what really makes it so much more impressive. I think in the old days when guys would win a lot of races, they were racing double or triple as much. There were maybe three or four or five cars they were racing against that might have been capable of winning races. He was on the tail end of that when he started his team and has maintained that into this modern era where it’s so difficult to win races. To accomplish what he’s accomplished with the 200 wins at this point in time is really impressive.”

MEARS (ON CONTRIBUTING TO THE 200-WIN MILESTONE.): “I think it’s awesome. It’s a small part in what they’ve done over there; what Rick has accomplished over the course of his whole career as an owner. But just to be a small part of that is pretty special. When we go into the history books and they start talking about 200 wins with Hendrick Motorsports, it means a lot to say that I was in some small way a part of that. I think it’s something that seems big now, but in the future and looking back on my career, and when Rick looks back at what he’s done, it’s going to be a lot bigger than it seems to be.”

MEARS (ON RICK HENDRICK AS A CAR OWNER.): “I think he’s got a really good ability of surrounding himself with the right people, and this sport is one thing that I’ve truly realized is how crucial it is to put yourself around the right people. He has a company that has 500-some employees. To make a company like that function properly is very difficult, and the only way it’s going to do it is with the right people. I think success breeds success, and there’s an attitude there at Hendrick Motorsports where people strive to be the best because they know they’ve been hired by a team that expects that. And then on top of all of that, he’s still created a comfortable working environment. It really just is a lot of good people doing a really good job to the best of their ability. And I think Rick’s done a great job in starting that structure and format that’s helping continue to win races.”

MEARS (ON HIS CUP WIN DRIVING THE NO. 5 CHEVY AT CHARLOTTE IN 2007.): “It was a really big weekend with the National Guard at the time. It was Memorial Day weekend. There were a lot of cool things surrounding that whole win. It was the first points win with the new Chevy R07 motor. Memorial Day is a huge weekend for my family, anyway, because of my uncle and my dad participating in the Indy 500. It’s just always been a huge weekend for my family. So to get a win on that weekend was big. We had all the names of the fallen National Guard soldiers on the car and all the head guys from the National Guard were there as well. It was just a big win.

“We actually won it in a fuel-mileage race, but the cool part about it is we ran inside the top five, top 10 all day long and really had a fast, competitive car. Darian (Grubb, crew chief) made the call pretty early that we were going to try to make it all the way to the end, so I started saving fuel. Fortunately we made it. As soon as we came across the start-finish line, we went into (Turns) 1 and 2. We ran out of fuel going down the backstretch. It was pretty rewarding because of how well we ran all day long.”

MEARS (ON WINNING HIS FIRST CUP EVENT WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “It was huge. It seemed like at that time, everything was just right. Darian and I were just really hitting our stride, and that was right about the time that we really started building fast race cars and really competing with Jimmie (Johnson) and Jeff (Gordon) and really a viable race team at that point. To win it with Hendrick was just huge because with having such good friends and people, I consider them family.”

JERRY NADEAU, DRIVER, NO. 25 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 2000-2002 (ON HIS TIME WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “I think it was the greatest thing for me in my career in NASCAR, and I think that it really picked me up. We had a lot of chances of winning a lot of races, but when my win came at Atlanta, that was my most memorable win, having John Hendrick and everyone there. I mean, here’s a young guy who came down from Connecticut with $200 in his pocket and drove for one of the best teams in NASCAR, and I was able to get my win.”

NADEAU (ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACHING 200 WINS.): “I think they deserve it. They’ve been around for years, and I think Mr. Hendrick is capable of winning 200 races in NASCAR. He’s amazing. He’s got a lot of passion and determination to make sure his drivers are winners, and he’ll do anything and everything to make his cars the fastest and best out there. I’m not shocked at all that he’s won that many races. All I can say is that as a driver, I was very happy and fortunate that I was able to run with one of the best teams in NASCAR.”

NADEAU (ON RICK HENDRICK.): “His passion and his leadership have made him successful. Plus, he is very competitive. He has a lot of determination and class. He’s got so much class, and he’s such a great supporter and a talker. He listens, and he gives details, and he pumps you up. I know it always helped me to hear the things he would say on the radio. It makes you feel really good, and he’s just a good guy. Rick didn’t get handed all this stuff that he has; he worked his butt off, and he’s been through so much in the last 10 years. It’s amazing that he’s able to stand up with so much character after everything that he’s been through.”

NADEAU (ON WINNING AT ATLANTA IN 2000.): “I started second and basically ran up front all day. We had the car to beat, and then a late caution kind of put me in fourth. There were only so many laps left, and I had to pass, I think Dale Earnhardt Sr. or Ward Burton was winning the race at the time, and I remember arguing with (crew chief) Tony Furr saying, ‘How in the hell is he in front of me?’ I actually worked my butt off and was able to get in the lead. We got ourselves a win in front of Dale Earnhardt Sr. And I’ve got probably one of the most memorable pictures that I’m so proud of. It’s of me and Dale Earnhardt Sr., and he’s giving me the thumbs up. I remember my first race at Michigan, he was shaking his fist at me. Fortunately, in that race, he was giving me the thumbs up sign, so that kind of made me feel like I made it.”

NADEAU (ON EARNING HIS FIRST WIN WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “I didn’t know when I was going to get my first win in NASCAR. I had a hunch that being signed up with the best team in NASCAR, that I was going to get my fair shot, and I did. I was very fortunate, and I’m happy that I was able to put a trophy on my mantle.”

JOE NEMECHEK, DRIVER, NO. 25 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 2002-2003 (ON HIS MEMORIES WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “Driving at Hendrick Motorsports was a really great time in my career. I know when we first started there, hopped in the No. 25 UAW-Delphi car, that was a trying moment for myself and for the team. A lot of circumstances going on within the team, but once we got some stuff figured out and got the cars figured out, we were right there contending. That’s all anybody could ask for.”

NEMECHEK (ON WINNING AT RICHMOND, VA.): “The race win in Richmond in 2003, what a great day. We showed up, and practice was OK. At the start of practice, we made a couple of changes in the car, and all of a sudden we were really good. Terry Labonte, our teammate, was on the pole. I know once the race started, Terry led the first couple of laps, and I think we drove by and took off and led the most laps that day. There was a point during the race after leading, a caution came out and the pits were opening. Either Peter Sospenzo, my crew chief, or I was talking too much and never heard anybody say ‘come down pit road’ after we were past it. Everybody pitted behind me, and I remember looking in the mirror thinking, ‘Man this isn’t good.’ But we were back leading the race in 25 or 30 laps, so when something is going that way, you know it’s yours to give away, and it was a very, very special car we had that day. It’s days like that that you look for. Man, you want to drive cars like that. I just can’t thank the folks at Hendrick, from the engine shop to the chassis shop — everybody who made that day special. It’s neat to give Mr. Rick a win.”

NEMECHEK (ON WHAT IT MEANS FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TO REACH 200 WINS.): “It means a lot to me. To reach 200 wins, that’s just an incredible mark, but when you have great drivers like Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Terry Labonte — you just think about all the guys that have been there contributing to that. It’s pretty phenomenal. To win 200 as an owner, that’s an incredible feat.”

NEMECHEK (ON RICK HENDRICK AS AN OWNER.): “I would say the best way to describe Mr. H is he’s a delegation person. He knows who to put in charge, how to group people together, and how to get the most out of those people. In any business, that leads to success, whether it’s in his racing or it’s in his dealership business. Whatever it may be in, he knows how to make it successful. You go through your tough moments, you go through your years where it’s hard to win a race, if you even win a race. And then when you get on top it makes you more thankful for what you have.”

RICKY RUDD, DRIVER, NO. 5 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 1990-1993 (ON HIS TIME WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “I just remember it was a real exciting time to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports in the day. I think just having an opportunity to work for Rick Hendrick was the big thing. We had a heck of a team from day one. We stepped in and were a great race team, a great organization. And it was a group of people that really clicked. We had a lot in common. We had a lot of fun on the track, a lot off the track together as a team. Back then there weren’t quite as many people involved as there are today, so you were able to do things like lake parties when we’d win and have the group over as a team. There was a lot of camaraderie at the time, but also very competitive race cars on the track.”

RUDD (ON HIS FAVORITE CUP WIN WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “My favorite Cup win was back at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) (in 1990). Waddell Wilson was our crew chief at that time. We had a brake failure on the racetrack in practice. Pretty exciting time — went into one of the tire barriers at a pretty good clip of speed. It seemed like it just totally destroyed the race car. Well, at the time, we didn’t have our backup car at the same caliber of our primary car. So after assessing all the damage all the guys looked at it and said, ‘We can roll out the backup car and cut the whole backend off the car.’ Sheet metal, roof, everything. There wasn’t a lot of frame damage, but there was a lot of sheet metal damage. So I remember them working around the clock, as much as NASCAR would allow. They basically took a complete car out of the trailer, cut the body off it, and put it on the car that had wrecked. We went out and we won that weekend. It was awfully nice to see all the effort that went out that weekend, and to be rewarded with a victory, it was a great weekend.”

RUDD (ON CONTRIBUTING TO THE 200-WIN MILESTONE.): “I feel like I’m such a small speck in that (200th win), but I guess in some ways I was part of the early days. The thing about racing is it is now and tomorrow; it’s never really about looking back. It is always about the next chassis, the next engine combination, the next spring-shock combination; it is always looking ahead. I think when you get to the 200 mark, it is a time to get your breath. It’s a time to say, ‘Hey, let’s take a breather.’ Even if it is for only two hours, think about it and say, ‘Hey look at what we have accomplished as a team here.”

KEN SCHRADER, DRIVER, NO. 25 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 1988-1995 (ON HIS MEMORIES OF DRIVING FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “I was there for nine years, and every bit of it was special. One of the neatest things was just getting to meet the family and become friends with them. I really had the deal, though, because I didn’t drive for Rick (Hendrick), I drove for Pop (Papa Joe Hendrick). Man, did we have fun. At the time, we had some of the guys on our team that had been with the Hendricks for a while. Richard Broome went through all the boats with Rick. Frank Edwards was around when Rick was a kid helping Pop. I had Harry Hyde, who got Rick into the deal. I had just a really special group, and we started out with Harry and wound up with Richard; then Ken Howes became our crew chief. It was just a wonderful time. It didn’t always go like we wanted. We should have won another 10 races easy, but something always happened. Still, it was the best nine years of my racing career.”

SCHRADER (ON HIS MOST MEMORABLE HENDRICK WIN.): “I would guess when we won Charlotte (N.C.) in 1989. We had some really cool pictures of Pop and Mary (Hendrick) in Victory Lane with us, and it was just pretty cool. At the time, we always had a big party at (my) shop after the races. They were all over there that night at my place. There were only four (wins), but they were all pretty cool.”

SCHRADER (ON PAPA HENDRICK’S INFLUENCE ON RICK HENDRICK.): “Obviously it’s Rick’s deal. Rick built it up and everything, but Pop was the one that had the desire to do it first. And then Rick wound up getting ate up with the sport because of Pop. I’m not talking about just the Cup, I’m talking about racing in general. So Pop was the one that Rick picked up all that from.”

SCHRADER (ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACHING 200 WINS.): “You gotta just go by modern era because they used to run 60 to 70 races a year, but they also used to only have one team, too. If you just look in the modern era. Man, I remember I was there when they looked at Hendrick Motorsports and shook their heads because they didn’t think anybody could make three cars work. That’s not going to happen, they said. And that’s one thing that I did from the get-go. Just talking to Rick and understanding, you know, that this is a little different than running those dealerships, and you have to use it to your advantage. This is how you do it. I bought in. But there were people that thought that didn’t make any sense. He’s the one that laid the groundwork and really perfected the multi-car team.”

SCHRADER (ON HELPING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACH ITS 200-WIN MARK.): “When they get there, I’ll be in for 2 percent, so that’s not near what Jimmie (Johnson) and Jeff (Gordon) and (Tim) Richmond and (Geoff) Bodine and Darrell (Waltrip) and all those guys did. But guess what? There were some others in there that didn’t get to contribute, and I’m just more than proud that my name is on that list of 200 victories.”

SCHRADER (ON RICK HENDRICK.): “Bottom line, in my opinion, he’s a very good, considerate and honest person, so people want to work for him. He takes care of them. Sponsors want to deal with him; he makes sure he does everything possible to try to over-deliver. He’s just a good person; the kind of person you want to be associated with. I love that family, and that whole family, they’re just good people. I’m a Hendrick Motorsports guy still. That’s my team.”

SCHRADER (ON WINNING AT TALLADEGA, ALA., IN 1988.): “It was so hot that day, and they iced me down with coolers after the race. But during the race, I had worked my way back to about, oh, I don’t know, 16th or 17th with 20 (laps) to go. I’d gotten pretty far back, and I remember Harry Hyde was really mad on the radio. But things worked out that we were able to get back up there. That first one was pretty special. Then we all went back to Anniston to the Holiday Inn and partied there. We had a heck of a party.”

BRIAN VICKERS, DRIVER, NO. 25 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 2003-2006 (ON HIS MEMORIES WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “I started driving for Hendrick Motorsports in 2003, and Ricky (Hendrick) was the one that actually asked me to come drive for him. He had just stepped out of the car and was taking more a leadership-ownership role in the No. 5 (Nationwide) team at the time. He fought for me to get me in the car, which always meant a lot to me. We were fortunate enough to do well that first year, that first year together — his first year as an owner and mine as a full-time driver in the NASCAR Busch Series. We ended up winning some races and won the championship. That was probably one of the best years, if not the best year of my racing career. Just that time getting to know not only this incredible sport and having my first ride in NASCAR but spending time with and getting to know Ricky and Rick and the whole family at Hendrick Motorsports. I always look back and think of all those great memories, and it just makes me smile to be a part of all that. Now to look back and know that I was part of the 200 wins at Hendrick Motorsports, it’s just incredible to think about that.”

VICKERS (ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACHING THE 200-WIN MARK.): “The only other organization to do that was Petty Enterprises, and even that was incredible. I don’t think anybody would argue that Richard (Petty) didn’t earn every bit of that, and they didn’t work their butts off to get it. But no one’s going to argue that there wasn’t less competition then, too. I think the level of competition in this sport now is the highest it’s ever been, and it’s only grown over the years. For Hendrick Motorsports and for Rick Hendrick to reach that number in today’s environment, in today’s competitive NASCAR market, whether it be in the Cup Series or the Nationwide Series or the (Camping World) Trucks, is a testament to the strength of the organization, the depth, the people there, and obviously the leadership through the years from Rick and many of the managers and even Ricky.”

VICKERS (ON HELPING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACH THIS MILESTONE.): “It’s special. I got into racing because I love it, and I love going fast, but I’m also a competitive person. To know that I was part of helping Hendrick Motorsports compete at the highest level and compete to get 200 wins is something that’s special to me. I’ll always have that, and I’ll always have those great memories from so many wonderful years and great experiences. Knowing that I was a part of not only good times, but good wins and victories means a lot.”

VICKERS (ON HIS CUP WIN AT TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY IN 2006.): “Unfortunately, it was a bittersweet win. My first win in the Cup Series, and coming out of Turn 2, Jimmie (Johnson) and I were backing up a little bit to get a run on (Dale Earnhardt) Junior, and we had a heck of a run. When (Johnson) pulled out to pass, I was slow to follow. I didn’t know when he was going to pull out, and he pulled out so quick, that I kind of got behind him or behind his move. When I went to follow him, I had already made up ground on him, and it’s one of those incidents where it all happened so fast that it just catches you off guard. I went to pull down with him, but it’s the last lap, you’re coming to the checker, you’re not going to lift. We’re trying to pass Junior, and when I was coming out of (Turn) 2, I knew we had a run on Junior. And I felt like we had that, so my plan was to push him as hard as I could down the backstretch, get a run on Junior and then race Jimmie to the finish line. We’d already made up enough ground on Junior by that time that he was out of the picture. That’s why we were drafting so hard, but unfortunately, when I went to pull back in behind (Johnson), when he pulled out to pass Junior, I caught him in the rear end and ended up turning him. We ended up winning the race, which was great, but not only did I wreck my teammate racing for a championship, I also wrecked my best friend. It wasn’t intentional, and it was difficult. I can tell you this, no one was happier to see Jimmie win the championship than probably me that year.”

DARRELL WALTRIP, DRIVER, NO. 17 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 1987-1990 (ON HIS MEMORIES OF RACING AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “When I started working for Rick (Hendrick), Hendrick Motorsports was sort of in its infancy at that time, it was just kind of getting started, getting its legs under it, and we had the Tide Ride. Remember we had the ‘Dream Team?’ (LAUGHS.) Well, it didn’t turn out to be the dream; it sort of turned out to be a nightmare for poor Rick because me and Waddell Wilson and a whole bunch of us superstars at the time got together, and it didn’t work out so hot. But, as time went by with the Tide car, I was able to win the Daytona 500 for Rick.

“Rick taught me so much. I’m a driver; I have a driver’s mentality. I’m not a business man, and when I went to work for Rick he taught me how to run a team and taught me how to balance a checkbook — which, when you have a team, it’s pretty hard to do. And he also taught me it’s better to have your name on the back of the check than it is on the front, but nonetheless I learned a lot of valuable lessons from Rick and then eventually had my own team. And Rick always likes to remind me, and rightfully so, that if I had stayed with him I would have won a hundred races, at least, and probably six or seven championships. So, he’s still one of my dearest friends.”

WALTRIP (ON RICK HENDRICK AS AN OWNER.): “Rick has been successful as an owner because of the way he treats his people. You go in any of those race shops, it’s just like any of the dealerships. People are happy to be there. They’re complimentary of the working environment, the people they work with, the way Rick treats them. Rick is just a gentleman, and if you look at his driver lineup and you look at the people he does business with, they’re all that kind of people and it’s all because of Rick. It starts at the top. I always say the one guy that doesn’t get enough credit for the success of Hendrick Motorsports is Rick Hendrick. That’s just who he is. He stays behind the scenes and keeps a low profile, but he is the most knowledgeable guy in this sport from top to bottom — how to run a team, how to hire people, how to win races, how to win championships. He’s the total package.”

WALTRIP (ON WINNING THE 1989 DAYTONA 500.): “Well, other not being able to hardly see where I was going because of the tears pouring out of my eyes, I was just watching that gas gauge. The gauge was fluctuating, the engine was sputtering, and you know with two (laps) to go I didn’t think I was going to make it. I’m screaming on the radio, ‘I’m out of fuel!’ and (crew chief Jeff) Hammond says, ‘Keep going, keep going! You can make it, you can make it!’ I don’t know if he’s talking to me or the car, but whatever it was I kept nursing the throttle and drafting behind somebody and trying to save as much fuel as I possibly could. And when the white flag came out, I held my breath for that whole lap because I didn’t see any way that that car could finish that race and run that many laps, but by golly it did. I give my wife Stevie a lot of credit for that, too. She calculated the mileage and she told Hammond that if he could nurse a couple of extra laps out of that thing, we can win this race. One of my favorite things that Stevie said in the pits that day was, ‘We’ve figured out how to lose this race a dozen times. Today, let’s figure out how to win it.’ And we did. We did it with fuel mileage, and we had a great car; we sat on front row. Kenny (Schrader, Hendrick Motorsports teammate) was on the pole; I was outside. We had a great car; we didn’t just luck into it. We just had good strategy as well as a good car.”

WALTRIP (ON CONTRIBUTING TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS’ 200 CUP WINS.): “You know, I’m just glad I could make a contribution. Rick has done so much for so many, me included. We’re in the car business together; we’ve been in the racing business together. I’ve driven for him, I’ve helped him. I haven’t helped him near as much as he’s helped me, but at least I’ve made a contribution. You know when they talk about the guys who’ve won races for him, my name is on that list, and it’s some of his favorite wins — Martinsville, Daytona, Charlotte. Those are races that are important to him, and I’m glad I was able to contribute a small amount, anyway.”

SANDY WELSH, SISTER OF TIM RICHMOND, DRIVER, NO. 25 CHEVROLET FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FROM 1986-1988 (ON WHAT RACING WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS MEANT TO HER BROTHER.): “It was phenomenal for Tim. He loved Rick and Papa Joe (Hendrick). It would have been interesting to see how far he would have gone under Rick’s guidance and the camaraderie of Rick’s organization. I am sure there would have been a lot of championships.”

WELSH (ON HER MOST MEMORABLE RACE.): “The one race that stands out for me, I want to say it was at Pocono Raceway. The year was 1987. Tim was sick and came back to race. There were huge billboards on the track with pictures of the drivers, and I remember because Tim won the race and went around the track twice before he came to winner’s circle because he was crying. Mom and I were crying. So was Rick.”

WELSH (ON RICK HENDRICK.): “Rick has a passion for cars, racing and business, and he knows how to blend the three. Rick and Hendrick Motorsports meant everything to Tim. They really did. We all know what a great guy Rick is, and Tim felt a great respect for him as an owner, but even more so as a friend. Rick and Tim were close in age and close in heart — they shared the passion of the sport. Tim felt truly blessed to be a part of the No. 25 team.

 

CREW CHIEFS:

 

GARY DEHART, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 CHEVROLET 1992-1997

(ON HIS MEMORIES FROM HIS TIME WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “In the early days when I first came on, it was an opportunity of a lifetime. Knowing Rick Hendrick, and working with, at first, the ‘Dream Team’ with Darrell Waltrip, which turned into something else. And the early days with Ricky Rudd, me learning as a crew chief as we went along. And then I was able to get reunited with Terry Labonte in 1993 and 1994. It’s great looking back on how many wins that you had, the wins that Hendrick Motorsports has. It’s unbelievable that they could win this many races and be so successful, even early in the going with Jeff Gordon and Terry Labonte, and then Jimmie (Johnson) came along. It’s been great.”

DEHART (ON HIS MOST MEMORABLE CUP WIN.): “Well, you know I’m supposed to sit here and say, ‘All of them are. It’s good that you can win a race every now and then.’ But my first win was with Ricky Rudd, so that would probably be up there with a lot of them. But you know, then some of the first races we won with Terry (Labonte) were also good ones. I’d say I guess Ricky Rudd; the first race you ever win is always the one closest to your heart.”

DEHART (ON WINNING AT DOVER IN 1992 WITH RICKY RUDD.): “Early in my tenure as crew chief, I didn’t know a whole lot. I wasn’t a crew chief. I was just a good ol’ boy in the shop working just like the guys you see here today. I was thrown into it, and I thank God for the opportunity to do that. But it made me a different person.

“I think learning in the early 90s how to be a crew chief, and that was probably the hardest part for me coming through the transition was that first win with Ricky. I made a lot of mistakes along the way getting to that first win. Ricky was good to work with, and we were in Dover for our first win. There were 20 laps to go, and everybody had to have fuel. It was one of those uncharacteristic races where you’re racing and there’s not going to be a caution and everybody had to have fuel. It was only just a couple cars there that were fast, and Bill Elliott was one of them in Junior Johnson’s car. But we forced the issue a little bit. We kept Ricky out as long as possible, hoping they would have to pit first, and fortunately they had to pit first so that opened the window for us to say, ‘Hey, they put on four tires.’ And knowing that Bill Elliott and the Junior Johnson team was better than we were all day long. We were maybe a second- or third-place car. We weren’t going to win the race no other way. Tire wear was an issue like it always is, but I told Ricky, ‘You’ve got three seconds of fuel. That’s all you’re going to get.’ So once that receptacle went in the hole for three seconds, it was, ‘Go, go, go.’ We didn’t put on tires. Well, Ricky Rudd thought we were crazy for not putting on tires, which I didn’t blame him because he had to run around on those slick things. But we got back out and, actually, we were a lap ahead of them because we only did fuel. And back then you didn’t have the pit road speed, which was a major issue, so you got back out, you got in line.

“We were a whole lap ahead of Bill Elliott so all you could hear from Ricky was, ‘He’s going to pass us! He’s going to pass us!’ I said, ‘Let him pass us. We’re going to be all right. He’s gotta come back around to beat you. You only got 20 laps. You’ve got less than 10 minutes of racing. Just stay out there and run it as hard as you can. Don’t get in the wall. Just do it.’ And I think it finally came down. We got the checkered flag, and it was pretty cool. We came across the start-finish line about 200 feet ahead of Bill Elliott.”

DEHART (ON WHERE WINNING 200 CUP RACES STACKS UP.): “I tell you, winning 200 races is phenomenal to begin with. And most of them are modern day wins, which are hard to come by. Back when Petty (Enterprises) did it, they were racing three or four times a week, so that was easier to do. Plus, they had the competition outclassed so bad. Two hundred wins in today’s modern era is phenomenal. I think it’s only something that Hendrick Motorsports can do. Looking back, I don’t know if there’s anybody else. It’s going to be an accomplishment and a record that’s going to be hard to beat.”

DEHART (ON RICK HENDRICK.): “Rick is by far one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. I think he’s fair, and he’s honest, and I think all that comes from his parents, Papa Joe and Mary. He had a dream for doing what he wanted to in motor sports. He was certainly a person who knew what he was going after, and I respected that. I would like to think that I was that way. He can form a picture of what he wants, and that’s what he goes after. I think that’s one of the great things about Rick Hendrick as a person and a leader.”

DEHART (ON THE CHASSIS BUILDING PROGRAM AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “We had nonbelievers and believers here when we first started the program (in the early 1990s), and that was when I first came here. That was one of my favorite things. I’m pretty much a fabricator-slash-whatever, but chassis aerodynamics and things like that is what I was interested in doing. I felt like I was decent at it at the time. I tell you a person who was really good and listened to us a lot in the early days was (crew chief) Harry Hyde. He really added a lot to our program because he believed in what we were trying to do.

“Dusty was our first car we did. It was a very heavy car, heavy framed car. Today, we’ve learned how to build them just as strong and be a whole lot lighter. But it was the very first car. It was a little bit crude in some ways, but it was a start. And I just thank Rick for letting a program like that happen. I don’t know that you could have gone anywhere and done a program like that. Rick being the person he was, said, ‘Heck yeah, let’s do it.’ Dusty was a good car. (Greg) Sacks drove the car a lot. That car actually starred in the movie ‘Days of Thunder,’ too.”

DEHART (ON HIS MOST MEMORABLE WIN.): “We were good all day long at Bristol (in August 1995). And if you’re at Bristol, you always knew you had to race Dale Earnhardt sometime during the day. We knew Dale was good, and we knew he was coming. We knew it was going to be hard for him to get to us, but he did get to us. In Turn 4, he got to us. We were leading, and he spun Terry out. Well, Terry decided, I’m going across the start-finish line so he hadn’t checked up yet, and he went right across it, came around and hit the wall. I remember, I said, ‘It don’t make any difference how you cross the finish line, you won the race. We’re all happy. Is it running enough to get to Victory Circle?’ He said, ‘Well, I don’t have any oil pressure.’ I said, ‘Well, we’ll be down there to push you to Victory Circle.’ But apparently he changed his mind because he decided to drive it up there anyway. That was probably one of my most memorable wins.”

RAY EVERNHAM, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 CHEVROLET, 1992-1999 (ON HIS MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM RACING WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “It is hard to say a favorite moment. We had so many great times winning with that team that it is really hard to pick one. You know, winning in Charlotte — our first race we won running there at Charlotte in the 600. It was really big to win at Indy. It was really big to win our first championship. But ultimately my favorite race was when we won the million dollars at Darlington (S.C.) in the Southern 500 because we did not have a winning car that day and everybody gave extra effort. I feel like I did a good job as a crew chief. I feel like Jeff (Gordon) did a great job as a driver. I felt like the pit crew did a great job. We probably worked harder to win that race with about a fifth-place car than any other race we ever won.”

EVERNHAM (ON HOW HENDRICK’S 200-WIN ACCOMPLISHMENT STACKS UP.): “Two hundred wins in today’s time is phenomenal. Going back to the Petty era, it’s going to be really hard for any driver to beat Richard Petty’s record because of the amount of racing. It is going to be really hard for another owner or another company to beat the Petty record, because, again, of the races and the years in the sport. But to do what Mr. Hendrick has been able to do in this short period of time is incredible. I think that this puts him as No. 2 on the overall list, but as we have said when you look at the modern era and what he has been able to accomplish, it is amazing. For the number of races run versus the wins, it shows a consistent winning percentage. I think that even more so is the fact that this organization has been able to grow and flourish and remain in championship form through changes and tragedies and time. The one constant there has been Mr. (Rick) Hendrick, and ultimately when you look at Hendrick Motorsports from the outside you can think it is about fast cars, bodies and pit crews and all that, but ultimately it is about people. It still comes down to that one man at the top of the pyramid. This place is really, in my opinion, a reflection of him. One of the best comments I’ve read is ‘Mr. Hendrick is a people chemist.’ He really is. That is what he is. That is what he does. To me, the 200 wins is incredible, but the fact that he has done that throughout a number of years, throughout all the changes and tragedies and all the things that have happened, that is what amazes me.”

EVERNHAM (ON WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE MILESTONE.): “I feel really good. As you go through your career, there are certain things you’re trying to accomplish. You’re building your career for yourself. But then as your career winds down, you want to look back at the lives you touched and the things you were a part of. And this place is special to me. It means a lot to me. This is still home. It’s still family.”

EVERNHAM (ON WHY RICK HENDRICK IS SUCCESSFUL AS A TEAM OWNER.): “He is a people chemist. I don’t know anybody better than Rick Hendrick at picking the right person. Even if you don’t think you can do something, he knows you can do it. And giving you that confidence and then giving you the tools to work with, and he knows how to motivate you by pats on the back and then with tough love when you need it. He’s just got that ability to see something, as I said, in people — direct them and then bringing out something in you that you didn’t know you had. It’s incredible with not just the people in motor sports, but with the (Hendrick) Automotive Group in general. Everybody you talk to, they want to please Mr. Hendrick. That’s really a unique thing.

“Being a great team owner is not about making a fast car, and that’s where I made my mistake. I thought being able to make a fast car was going to make me a great team owner. Being a great team owner is knowing how to put the right people in the right places and then stand back and let them do their job.”

EVERNHAM (ON WINNING HIS FIRST CUP RACE WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “Jeff (Gordon) was emotional. We didn’t know this about Jeff at the time, but he’d cry in a heartbeat. I didn’t understand what was the matter with him on the radio, and when he came in, I realized. I thought that was really special. It made it mean even more to me that it meant so much to him. I felt like at that time, wow, we’ve done something that means a lot to this kid. But it didn’t really hit me until the next day. We were partying and whooping it up. We’d never gotten to do the hat dance, and the champagne toast, and all the other things that go along with it. It was really special.

“The next morning, it clicked. I used to live over in Harrisburg (N.C.), about two or three miles from the shop at Motorsports and had to drive past the speedway. I didn’t think anything of it. Got up Monday to go to work and was driving past the speedway, and I thought, ‘Wait a minute. We won that race last night. When I get to the shop, I’m going to pick up the Charlotte Observer, and it’s going to say we won.’ And it started to be special. At that point, you think if I never do anything else, I’ve got one.”

EVERNHAM (ON WINNING THE 1994 INAUGURAL BRICKYARD 400.): “When we heard that race was happening, we went after it pretty hard because we always figured that the way other Cup teams had an advantage on us was because they had so much experience at different racetracks, but they had no experience at Indy. Jeff was from Pittsboro, right near Indy, so I felt like it was going to be big for him going there. Indy was always special for me. And I started calling up some of my friends. I had worked with A.J. Foyt through the IROC Series. I knew Pancho Carter pretty good. Started calling up some of my friends and started talking to some of those guys abut Indy, about the quirks of the track, things they did with Indy cars. And we built a car, that’s in the (Hendrick Motorsports) museum, specifically for Indy. We put big, giant brake pads on the bottom so we didn’t have to take air in the nose. We had a big rear sway bar, and we built the front end specifically to be set up like an Indy car based on the things I learned from them. We went there and qualified third quick.

“We played all of our cards right that day. Jeff drove a great race, racing back and forth with Ernie Irvan. They kept swapping the lead. The guys had great pit stops. It was one of those days where we did everything right and won the race. We certainly weren’t the favorites by far, and it was really neat to go there and do something different, and I think right then people started to respect us as a team thinking if we go to a place where everything is equal, and we don’t have an advantage on these guys, they’re going to be a problem. And as we gained experience on them, we started to be a problem.”

EVERNHAM (ON WINNING THE 1997 DAYTONA 500.): “We were all there with heavy hearts for sure. We had good cars, but we always had good cars at Daytona. We never went to Daytona with bad cars, and a lot of that is because we had great engines. I always kidded everybody and say my engine guys were my best chassis guys because the cars always handled on the straightaways, but you did have to have good strategy at Daytona. You did have to pick your tires right and get people working together.

“That race, I can’t remember if we were running for the lead, but we were side-by-side off of (Turn) 2 with (Dale) Earnhardt. Jeff pushes up and he gets into Earnhardt. Earnhardt goes spinning around, collects the (No.) 88 and the (No.) 28. Earnhardt turns over, and Jeff keeps going. There’s a wreck. There’s like 10 laps to go, and now we pit, and we hear the crowd yelling, and here comes Earnhardt with his car that had been turned over. It’s mashed. He’s driving down pit road, and he’s pointing at me, but not with that (index) finger. And I’m like, ‘What is going on here?’ He’s out there, and he’s finishing. I think at that time after we pitted, somehow Bill Elliott ended up with the lead, and there’s poor Bill. He’s out there by himself, and it’s the (No.) 24, (No.) 5 and the (No.) 25 all just lined up behind him so he kind of knew he was a sitting duck. And when they dropped the green flag, Jeff went low, Terry (Labonte) went high, and when they came around Bill, whoever got to the front first was going to win the race. Jeff was on the low side when they cleared Bill, so Terry got in behind him, and then Ricky (Craven) got in behind those two. Then it was a one-two-three finish so it was a great day for Hendrick. Man, it was exciting.”

ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NOS. 5 AND 24 CHEVROLETS, 2005-PRESENT (ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS REACHING THE 200-WIN MILESTONE.): “The 200 wins is a huge milestone for Hendrick Motorsports. To be able to win 200 races is an unbelievable accomplishment. It’s something that is very important to Mr. H, so we are really happy to be able to get there. To be able to be a part of it and contribute to it is a really big deal. You can look up and say that Hendrick Motorsports has accomplished a really great milestone in this sport, and I was able to be a part of it, so it’s an awesome feeling.

“I think it is a great testament to this company and what it’s about. It’s a huge compliment to Mr. Hendrick to get to the milestone and do it so quickly, and do it really the right way; to do it and keep his ideas and his integrity and win races the right way. And to have the best organization in the sport, it’s great. Two hundred is just a point on the chart. We hope to get to 250 and 300, and so on and so forth.”

GUSTAFSON (ON WINNING THE FINAL SOUTHERN 500 WITH LABONTE.): “I think Terry was being smart with his car and was waiting for time to go, and at the end he was gone. He just drove away from them. To me, back in the day, that was the most grueling race. It was so hot, so tough and so demanding and that, to me, epitomizes Terry Labonte. He was a super-tough, patient, calculating race car driver, and it was fitting that he won that race.”

Editor’s note: In 2003, Gustafson was the shock specialist for the No. 5 team.

CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 CHEVROLET, 2002-PRESENT (ON HIS THOUGHTS AND MEMORIES FOM HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “I think reaching that 200-win goal has been on Mr. H’s mind for a long time, and he’s wanted that. He’s spoken about it. In Kansas, he actually wrote on his hat in Victory Lane ‘199’ and made Jimmie (Johnson) and I sign it. It made us realize that it was only 199, that he wanted to get one more quickly. It’s pretty amazing when I sit back and think about the years that I’ve been here, how fortunate I was to be here in the early (No.) 24 years when we were winning eight-to-10 races during the mid-90s. It’s been a pretty outstanding career. We’ve done an awful lot, and we’ve come a long ways.”

KNAUS (ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE PART OF THE MILESTONE.): “I love the fact that I’ve been here as long as I have and helped create some of the milestones and be a part of those milestones as we’ve achieved them and surpassed them. That’s the thing that has always been neat about this place is you achieve a goal or accomplish a dream, and there’s always another one right behind it. Clearly, as soon as we get done celebrating the 200th (win) we’re going to be moving on to the next one.”

KNAUS (ON THE 200th WIN ACHIEVEMENT.): “I think for Hendrick Motorsports to be able to get that 200th win and kind of put that nail in that is pretty spectacular. We’ve won a lot of races over the course of the last 10 years since I’ve been back here. Shoot, one season (2007) as a company, we won 18 races. That’s just fantastic. You just don’t see that anywhere else. That shows the level of commitment that we have here and the desire we’ve got to win races.”

KNAUS (ON RICK HENDRICK’S PHILOSOPHY THAT IT’S ALL ABOUT PEOPLE.): “I think the people that we’ve had here have definitely been the ones that have made the difference. If you look at the tenure of the people who have been here, I can’t even begin to guess how long it’s been. But I’m going to say the average has been 10 years for most departments, which is just fantastic. Once people realize what it is that we’ve got here, they don’t ever want to leave, and that’s a good thing. Rick takes care of the people, and we all try to be great team members to each other. If people do leave, they always want to come back, so it’s a pretty special place.”

KNAUS (ON WHY RICK HENDRICK HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL.): “I think Hendrick Motorsports as a whole has been successful because Rick does it for enjoyment. He does it for fun. It’s his passion, it’s not his job, and whenever you’re passionate about something, you attack it with a little bit more vigor than you would if it was just your daily routine. This is his passion. Cars, racing and winning is what he wants to do.”

KNAUS (ON HIS FAVORITE CUP WIN.): “We’ve won a lot of races; we’ve been very fortunate. I’ve got some that probably mean more or maybe you look back on and think, ‘Man, that was really a dominant race car.’ Or one where we were able to overcome some adversity and come back.

“But the wins that I’m the proudest of are in 2006 when we won the Daytona 500 and we won Las Vegas when I was suspended. That was one of my proudest moments, if not two of my proudest moments, I’ve ever had. Seeing those guys and Jimmie being able to hold the team together in my absence, when I wasn’t there, and win races. That just reinforced the structure and the things that we believe in. And the way that this team has been put together that they can do the job.”

STEVE LETARTE, CREW CHIEF, NOS. 24 and 88 CHEVROLETS 2005-PRESENT (ON HIS MEMORIES WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “I’ve been very fortunate to be at Hendrick Motorsports for a long time. Two hundred wins is a lot, and, thankfully, I’ve been fortunate to be a part of them. I remember winning races in ’95 with Jeff (Gordon), and we’ve won a lot. I think the most important thing I can say about 200 wins is it’s not how many wins it is, but for how many years and how many decades that Mr. Hendrick has won and been successful.”

LETARTE (ON WHAT IT MEANS TO HIM THAT HE PLAYED A PART IN THE 200-WIN MILESTONE.): “While 200 wins is great, this is my family. This is my home. This is where I’ve been my whole life, and 200 wins or no wins, this is the place I’d rather work than anywhere else. So I’m thankful the boss has (the milestone). He deserves it. But the way he treats us, and the way the place is to work at, 200 wins or none, I’d want to work here.”

LETARTE (ON WHY RICK HENDRICK HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL.): “I think Mr. Hendrick has been extremely successful as an owner because he’s a big-picture guy. His view of the world of racing of where you need to go, what you need to be good at, is amazing. He’ll come in and give us direction on what he thinks the next big thing is. Or the area we need to be working. I’ve learned over the years you better listen because six-to-eight months down the road, that’s exactly where we’re at. That’s exactly what we’re running. His vision is amazing.”

LETARTE (ON HIS MOST MEMORABLE WIN.): “Fortunately, I’ve been around for a lot of them. I remember (No.) 150. That one was good, and I remember (No.) 100 with Jeff. I was on the (No.) 24 car when Jeff won 100 at Michigan, so it seems like it was a couple months ago. The fact we’re at 200 is pretty amazing.

“I can remember the last lap (of the 100th win) like it was yesterday. It was one of those days that I don’t think we deserved to win, but things happened. Special things happened so I imagine that the 200th win is going to be the same sort of way.”

LETARTE (ON WHAT REACHING THIS MILESTONE MEANS FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “I think 200 solidifies Hendrick Motorsports. It backs up the championships we’ve been very fortunate to win here lately. Honestly, I think it’s a stepping stone. I think Mr. Hendrick can win 200, 250, 300. He can win as long as he wants to win. I think a guy that’s won 200 races and been so influential in the sport, to be as humble as he is and the way he treats everyone really personifies the kind of person you want to work for, and I think he’s definitely that guy.”

JIM LONG, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 CHEVROLET, 2002-2004 (ON WINNING THE FINAL LABOR DAY WEEKEND SOUTHERN 500 WITH DRIVER TERRY LABONTE.): “It’s always emotional when you win, especially the Southern 500. But to win it for Terry, and it had been a while since Terry had won. And to win it at a track that he’s really ran good at in the past, I was very excited for him and excited for the guys. To come in third (on the final pit stop) and go out first, it was just like it played out perfect.”

ROBBIE LOOMIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 CHEVROLET, 2000-2005 (ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “Hendrick Motorsports is great. I remember when I first got the phone call from Jeff (Gordon) about the opportunity to come work there, and I think it took me about 15 minutes to make up my mind. I remember I was going to take the job there before I even toured the place because I knew of the tools and the engines and the cars and everything that Rick (Hendrick) put in place over there, and especially the people. When I sat down to talk with Richard (Petty) about it, I said, ‘I’ve got this opportunity to go work for Mr. Hendrick and Jeff.’ He said, ‘You’ve always needed a 25-year-old Richard Petty, and that’s what you’re getting in Jeff Gordon.’ He said, ‘Rick Hendrick is good people. I almost went to drive for them one time early in my career.’ So that was kind of cool hearing that from the guy I was working for that I was looking to go to work somewhere else and him praising that organization at the time.”

LOOMIS (ON HIS FAVORITE WINS.): “Unfortunately, you remember the ones that you lost, when you ran ‘em out of gas or you made a bad pit call. Those are the ones that stick with me the most, but we did have some great moments. 2000 was a trying season, getting that first win at Talladega. There was a good example of Rick. He put his arm around me somewhere and said, ‘Look. DuPont loves this race team. DuPont loves the business that we do with them. We’re going to get things back on track; just keep focused on what you need to do with Jeff.’ So that first win meant a lot, and that kind of propelled us into the 2001 season. When I look at that season, the all-star win was amazing because we wrecked in the rain and pulled the backup car off the truck and were able to come back and win the race.

“Winning Brickyard twice with Jeff was huge, and one of those, Rick was largely responsible for. We were running 30th or 32nd, and he came on the radio and said, ‘OK, Champ, I’ve seen you do this before.’ Jeff was getting really frustrated with the way the car was, but when he said that, it was like bam. And it was game on from then. Then we got some track position. That turned the whole day around, and we ended up winning that first one and came back to win a second Brickyard.

“The one that sticks with me the most is probably the Daytona 500. For years, I told everybody that the Daytona 500 pays the same amount of points as any other race, and that’s a speech I gave every year before we went down there. But when you win that race, there’s something really special about that. Going and putting the car in Daytona USA, and knowing that Rick’s been such a part of so many wins and so many cars that have gone to Daytona USA is really a neat feeling.”

LOOMIS (ON WINNING THE 2005 DAYTONA 500.): “We had a great car. Steve Berg was over the speedway program at that time, and really did a great job with the (Nos.) 24 and 48 cars. At the time, I felt like we had cars capable of sitting on the pole. The car was really fast in practice, and I remember I was heartbroken because we didn’t sit on the pole. I think we qualified third. I was really crushed, about the worst I’ve been crushed in qualifying in a while. I got a call from Rick that night. He said, ‘Remember, it’s not where you start the thing. Keep your eye on the prize. You’ve got a really good car. The car is fast.’ It was important to hear that from him, and then Steve Berg called. And I’d always told Steve that you can’t fly a kite without the wind and he told me that back. He said, ‘Loomis, we might have had the pole.’ We were that close to the pole sitter. But that qualifying devastated me, so to find ourselves seven or eight days later walking down pit road in Victory Lane with the car for the Daytona 500, that was just a really neat win that early in the season. It was a special meant-to-be win.”

LOOMIS (ON THE 2001 ALL-STAR VICTORY.): “I remember we pulled the backup car off, and I told Jeff, ‘Look, let’s just learn what we can from this race, and we’ll carry it over for the 600.’ At that point, I learned what a true champion Jeff Gordon was because he looked at me and his eyes sparkled and he said, ‘Are you kidding me? We’re going to win this thing tonight.’ And we did.”

LOOMIS (ON GETTING WIN NO. 100 FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS.): “You think back now, from 100 to 200, and it’s amazing, but probably what I remember the most about that day is Jeff used to be one of the most finicky guys with his gloves and his shoes and everything inside that car. That was his office, and everything had to be perfect. We used to cut the fringe off of the inside of each of his gloves. I’m sure he still does. He’d probably kill me for saying that. But he drove into Turn 1, I think, with a lap to go on the outside. I think it was Ricky Rudd who led most of the race that day. We led some of that race. But Jeff made a move that was just unbelievable, and the car stuck, and he came around and won the race. We kidded each other in Victory Lane that that’s why we cut the fringe off his gloves so he can make moves like that.”

LOOMIS (ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HENDRICK REACHING 200 WINS.): “I think it’s huge. I was just talking with Richard Petty about it, and he was talking about when his father, Lee Petty, and Richard started with two drivers, and they accumulated 250 wins through Petty Enterprises. That was an amazing feat. And then, there’s a guy who came along in ’55, Carl Kiekhaefer, who did it Rick’s style. He would show up with three or four cars, and if you ran fourth or fifth, it was like you won the race because Kiekhaefer’s cars were going to run in the top three. For Rick Hendrick, what he’s built over there with Jimmie and Jeff and all the drivers that have been there. That’s the measuring stick for you. If you go there and don’t win, chances are you’re not going to have a good ride after you leave there. So it’s a good measuring stick and a good barometer for everybody, if you want to find out the truest test. The hard part is if you don’t win the championship, you’ve had a failed season, and it’s hard not to feel that way because Rick gives you everything to do it with. I was fortunate enough to be there six years and we won one championship, so there were a lot of empty feeling winners in between that. But he inspires you to come back even stronger next year.”

LOOMIS (COMPARING PETTY AND HENDRICK.): “I think the comparison between Rick and Richard is they’re both really people persons. If they’re walking a CEO through the shop, they might see a lady in the lobby, and they’ll start talking to her like she’s the CEO of a company. Next thing you know, she’ll be back in the race shop on a tour seeing something she never expected to see. They’re really about the people, and they care about the people who work for them, which makes them inspired to work that much harder to give greatness.”

LOOMIS (ON HAVING A ROLE IN THE 200-WIN MILESTONE.): “It’s huge. Every now and then at Thanksgiving, I’ll send Jeff or Rick a note. It’s an honor for me to know that I was a small part of being a part of a winning championship organization that supplied you with everything you needed to go out there and do the job. To be able to win 20-some races with Jeff was a great feeling. To see what Chad and Jimmie have done over there is just another tribute to Rick Hendrick, the owner.”

Photo of members of the Hendrick Motorsports organization in victory lane at Darlington courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR.

Topics: Chad Knaus, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Darlington Raceay, Hendrick Motorsports, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR, Rick Hendrick, Southern 500

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