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Rick Hendrick honored to win 12th NSCS Championship
Rick Hendrick looks back on Hendrick Motor Sports' spectacular 2016 season which includes Jimmie Johnson's record-tying seventh NSCS title.
Johnson on Ricky Hendrick : 'In those closing laps, he took me for a ride'
RELATED: Miami results " Final standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Johnson championship gear Jimmie Johnson could feel that something special was about to happen in those waning laps Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway . His No. 48 Chevrolet had struggled throughout the day, considerably slower than the rest of the Championship 4 contenders. But on that final green-white-checkered attempt, Johnson took off like a rocket and didn't look back until taking the checkered flag -- and his seventh, record-tying championship. It was a phenomenon that left many stunned, including crew chief Chad Knaus, who just sat back in his chair atop the pit box with a smile. It was a surprise, a miracle, a legendary moment. It was Ricky Hendrick , Johnson said. "I swear, there was some intervention going on, there was a higher power involved," Johnson told NASCAR.com Tuesday morning. "... I was screaming at (Ricky) I needed his help on that last restart and the way we shot out and got going. "I took him along for the ride, but I think in those closing laps, he took me for a ride." The late son of team owner Rick Hendrick , Ricky Hendrick has been "along for the ride" for a seventh title with the team since Johnson first came up with the hashtag #Se7en at the Hendrick Motorsports ' annual Christmas party in December 2013, just after Johnson earned his sixth Sprint Cup Series title. "I was at the Hendrick Christmas party and it just so happened that year that Rick and Linda invited Ricky's favorite band to come in and play, which is O.A.R.," Johnson recalled. "... O.A.R. is playing, I'm watching Rick and Linda sing every word to every song ... I was in that space and reliving Ricky and my heart was full. And it dawned on me that he had a tattoo on his back that was 'Se7en' and spelled out how I've been using the hashtag. So, it hit me hard, right then and there." It took the team three years to be in the title mix again, but Johnson began to have an overwhelming, foretelling feeling this season was going to be special beginning at one special place. Martinsville Speedway . The track where he punched his ticket to the Championship 4 with a win on Oct. 30 -- and the track where Ricky Hendrick was headed when he lost his life in a tragic team plane accident on Oct. 24, 2004. "It was more than just the race itself -- when we won in Martinsville and you think back to when the plane crash happened," Johnson said. "When we won in Martinsville there was just this feeling that 'seven' was alive -- there was this great chance. "I stayed extremely calm in the weeks preparing (for Miami), through the course of the race and I just, I don't know -- I felt like something was going to happen and I was going to be OK with it, I didn't know what it was." The battle for #Se7en was uphill at first: Johnson started the race from the back of the field for unapproved adjustments. He made his way up to the top 10 quickly, but still struggled with the handling of the No. 48 machine, prompting Knaus to "try a bunch of (expletive)" with less than 100 laps to go. RELATED: Knaus closing in on big NASCAR record "I thought, 'All right, this is my moment to be a gracious loser,' " Johnson recalled. "I need to handle this the right way -- I'm going to shake someone else's hand today and handle this the right way. I'm going to have a chance to honor Ricky but it's different then.' "Then the final couple cautions happened, we put tires on, the 19 ( Carl Edwards ) and 22 ( Joey Logano ) wrecked and I'm like, 'Oh no, there's more. This might be what I think it is.' The next restart I get to second, I'm like, 'Oh, this is going to happen, this is really going to happen.' " RELATED: Late wreck ruins Edwards' title hopes Johnson restarted behind leader Kyle Larson , who led a race-high 132 laps, in the bottom lane. "Outside, it's your quarter," No. 48 spotter Earl Barban told Johnson on the radio in the final laps just before he passed Larson for the lead. "Clear, clear, clear, clear, clear, clear! "Come on baby, come home." That was the moment. "When I heard 'clear' off Turn 2, I just knew," Johnson said. "I literally had the goosebumps when I heard 'clear' and there was this register with 'This is why. This was going to happen.' It was insane." For Johnson, having Ricky -- a friend, fellow racer and member of the Hendrick Motorsports family -- along for the #Se7en ride made the accomplishment even more special. "It took us a couple years to get there but I've had the 'Se7en' and it's always taken me back to that place and just filled my heart up, trying to get seven, thinking of it on the Ricky level," Johnson said. "I miss him so much and it was fun way to pay my respects to him and also the others that were on the plane. I know it's meant a lot to Rick and Linda to have it be such a focal point, and so talked about and (to) bring the spirit back. "It's been the perfect thing for our Hendrick family."
Rick Hendrick : Dale Jr. 'on track' for Daytona 500
MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Team owner Rick Hendrick shed light Friday on Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s timetable to return to NASCAR competition, saying he anticipated his driver to be on pace to compete in time for the 2017 Daytona 500 . Earnhardt Jr., 42, has been sidelined from the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet since July after two severe crashes left him with concussion-like symptoms. He was ruled out for the remainder of the Sprint Cup season in September. "I think sometime in December the doctor's going to give him the final clearance and then we'll get him in a car," Hendrick said Friday after a news conference with the Sprint Cup Championship 4 car owners at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "He feels great. Everything's on track. I mean, every step that we supposedly need to go through, we've gone through, and I don't see anything holding us back." Earnhardt, who has been working on rehabilitation of his neurological conditions since this summer, reiterated that intention last month at Martinsville Speedway , saying in a pre-race interview that "we're booking things as normal" ahead of the 2017 season. That included sponsorship plans, photo shoots and other logistical agreements in preparation for next year. But Earnhardt Jr. also indicated he was eager to return to NASCAR's premier series, something Hendrick reaffirmed Friday. "He sent me a text the other day that he was excited and waiting for Daytona," Hendrick said. "I think we've just got a couple more hurdles to clear." Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman have split time in Earnhardt's No. 88 this season, with Gordon filling in for eight races and Bowman set to make his 10th start of the year in Sunday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Gordon has indicated that he's likely to resume his retirement from racing next season unless called upon by Hendrick . As for Bowman, the 23-year-old racer who competes part-time in the XFINITY Series has said he's still uncertain what his driving responsibilities -- beyond simulator work for Hendrick's team -- will be in 2017. Friday, Hendrick was uncertain as well. "Alex is a good guy. He's helped us in a lot of ways," Hendrick said. "We're just kind of taking that one a day at a time. He's done testing for us, he's done simulation for us and he's really done a good job. We're just kind of taking it a day at a time. We don't really have any certain plan." &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Time for a breakup? After mulling, Hendrick says no
MORE: Why Johnson will win the title HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team's summer swoon has come and gone once again and the Hendrick Motorsports driver will attempt to win a record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship here this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway . There were no calls to break up Johnson and Chad Knaus, one of the most successful driver/crew chief combinations in NASCAR, as a winless streak began in April and wasn't broken until Johnson showed back up in Victory Lane in October. But there was concern. "I think it's the toughest question when you have a relationship," team owner Rick Hendrick said Friday at Homestead. "It can be in a (car) dealership; it can be in a race team when you have two guys that have been so good and you try to decide 'Is it time?' "This year we started off really well and then we hit a lull in the summer and it was -- we asked ourselves then, is this time, do we need to make a change?" The months of July and August aren't among the team's most productive, with only eight of Johnson's 79 career victories coming during those two months. On the other hand, the last three months of the season have seen the No. 48 team roll up 33 victories.
Hendrick : 'I'm just happy to be here'
While in the media center at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Rick Hendrick , team owner of the No. 48 Chevrolet, discussed just how much it means for him to be at the speedway.
Michael Phelps introduces Jimmie Johnson at Sprint Cup Awards
Two of sports' greatest collided Friday evening at the Sprint Cup Awards as Michael Phelps made a surprise appearance to introduce 2016's Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in his official coronation. "Seven-Time," the man of the hour, received congratulations the entire evening, from Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick to every Chase driver, but it was Phelps that took the driver by surprise. The most-decorated Olympian of all time took the stage to introduce Johnson -- from one champion to the next -- to the Las Vegas crowd. Once Johnson got to the mic for his highly-anticipated champion speech he was indeed shocked. "It's still sinking in," he confessed. "It's mind blowing." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Betty Jane France named Myers Brothers Award Recipient
RELATED: Full schedule for Champion's Week DARLINGTON, S.C. (Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016) – Betty Jane France, whose philanthropic endeavors away from the race track rivaled those of the well-known family business of NASCAR, has been chosen as the 2016 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's prestigious Myers Brothers Award. France, who passed away Aug. 29, 2016, is the mother of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy. She was the widow of former NASCAR Chairman and CEO William C. France. While auto racing has been the cornerstone of the family profession, Betty Jane France's reach far exceeded the boundaries of the track. Kind and compassionate, France was the guiding force behind the formation of the NASCAR Foundation, the charitable arm of the sanctioning body that seeks to improve the lives of children most in need. She served as chairwoman of the Foundation upon its inception more than a decade ago and was later named chairwoman emeritus. In 2011, the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, presented by Nationwide, was established in her honor. Each year, the award recognizes outstanding charitable and volunteer efforts of NASCAR fans. Active in her Daytona Beach community as well as abroad, France also helped establish the Speediatrics children's care unit at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach as well as Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Fla. The Myers Brothers Award is named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers. Determined by a vote of the NMPA membership, it recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. It has been presented annually since 1958. Myers Brothers Award Winners 2016, Betty Jane France; 2015, Darlington Raceway ; 2014, Dale Earnhardt Jr .; 2013, Tony Stewart ; 2012, Jeff Gordon ; 2011, Drs. Joseph & Rose Mattioli; 2010, Jim Hunter; 2009, Barney Hall; 2008, T. Taylor Warren; 2007, Bill France Jr.; 2006, Benny Parsons; 2005, Rusty Wallace; 2004, Kyle and Patti Petty; 2003, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 2002, Mike Helton; 2001, Dale Earnhardt; 2000, Kyle Petty; 1999, Junie Donlavey; 1998, T. Wayne Robertson; 1997, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1996, Rick Hendrick ; 1995, TNN: The Nashville Network; 1994, Brickyard 400/ Indianapolis Motor Speedway ; 1993, Goody's Manufacturing Co.; 1992, Richard and Lynda Petty; 1991, Harry Gant; 1990. Dick Beaty; 1989, Bill France Jr.; 1988 Richmond International Raceway ; 1987, ESPN; 1986, Hayride 500; 1985, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1984, Charlotte Motor Speedway ; 1983, CBS-TV; 1982, MRN; 1981, Junior Johnson; 1980, STP & Champion Spark Plug Co.; 1979, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1978, Busch Beer; 1977, First National City Travelers Checks; 1976, Junior Johnson; 1975, Bill France Sr.; 1974, H. Clay Earles; 1973, Wood Brothers; 1972, Winston Cigarettes; 1971, Richard Petty; 1970, Richard Howard; 1969, David Pearson; 1968, Wood Brothers; 1967, Richard Petty; 1966, Norris Friel; 1965, Ned Jarrett; 1964, Richard Petty; 1963, Marvin Panch; 1962, Hank Schoolfield; 1961, Ned Jarrett; 1960, Russ Catlin; 1959, Lee Petty; 1958, Bob Colvin. Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon : · NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Betty Jane France · Buddy Shuman Award: Jack Roush · NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Comcast XFINITY · Chevrolet Cross Flags Award: Tony Stewart · American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick · Coors Light Pole Award: Carl Edwards · Duralast Brakes "Brake in the Race" Award: Kyle Busch · Goodyear NASCAR Series Champion Award: Jimmie Johnson · Ingersoll Rand Power Move Award: Dave Rogers, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Crew Chief · MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Scott Vester, Hendrick Engines No. 4 team · Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team · Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Kyle Busch · MOOG Steering & Suspension Problem Solver of the Year Award: Alan Gustafson, crew chief No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team · Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap Award: Kyle Busch · Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Jimmie Johnson · Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Chase Elliott · Champion Sponsor Award: Lowe's · Champion Crew Chief Award: Chad Knaus · Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide: Andy Hoffman &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Unifirst, Hendrick Motorsports strike 8-year sponsorship agreement
CONCORD, N.C. -- UniFirst and 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports have reached an eight-year agreement that will make the workwear and textile service company a primary sponsor of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS driven by Kasey Kahne . The contract runs through the year 2023. As the new Official Workwear Provider of Hendrick Motorsports , UniFirst will be a two-race primary sponsor in both 2016 and 2017, with the relationship increasing to three primary races annually from 2018-2023. In addition, UniFirst will be a full-season associate sponsor of the No. 5 team. UniFirst will make its Sprint Cup Series primary sponsorship debut later this season with back-to-back races Oct. 23 at Talladega Superspeedway and Oct. 30 at Martinsville Speedway . "UniFirst is excited to be a primary sponsor of Kasey and Hendrick Motorsports ," said Adam Soreff, director of marketing and communications for UniFirst. "This partnership is a great opportunity for our company because Hendrick Motorsports is one of the premier -- and most highly respected -- teams in professional auto racing. UniFirst's broad customer base, which includes 300,000 business locations across North America, employs thousands of enthusiastic NASCAR fans, so this relationship is a natural fit. We're extremely proud to have the UniFirst brand represented in such a dynamic atmosphere." UniFirst is one of North America's largest workwear and textile service companies, providing managed uniform, protective clothing, custom corporate image apparel, and ancillary facility services programs to businesses in virtually all industries. As part of the new relationship, UniFirst will supply work clothing and uniforms to Hendrick Motorsports and sister company Hendrick Automotive Group, which is the largest privately held retail automotive organization in the United States. "When a sponsor feels strongly enough to commit for eight years, it sends a clear message," said Rick Hendrick , owner of Hendrick Motorsports . "There's tremendous excitement about the opportunities our team and our sport present for UniFirst. They have a reputation for world-class service, the highest quality products and services, and having incredible people. We share a similar mindset and culture, and we're looking forward to working together across our entire organization." Since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, Kahne, 36, has earned three Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berths and five race wins with the No. 5 team. The Enumclaw, Washington, native has 17 career victories, 27 pole positions and 166 top-10 finishes in NASCAR’s top division. "UniFirst will be a great addition to our partners at Hendrick Motorsports ," Kahne said. "They're a reliable company that we've worked with at Kasey Kahne Racing for a long time, so I was happy to hear they are coming on board. I'm looking forward to having them as part of the No. 5 team and working with them in the years to come."
Great Clips extends relationship with Hendrick , No. 5 team
CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 20, 2016) -- Great Clips Inc. will continue its sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 5 Chevrolet SS team of driver Kasey Kahne in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a contract extension through 2018. The two-year agreement covers the 2017 and 2018 seasons and secures primary sponsorship of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS for 10 events annually. Great Clips, which joined Hendrick Motorsports as a partner in 2012, also will be a major associate sponsor of the No. 5 team each year. The world's largest salon brand, Great Clips became a first-time Sprint Cup primary sponsor with three races in 2013. The program grew to 10 primary races annually in 2014. "We are very pleased to extend our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and with Kasey through the 2018 NASCAR season," said Terri Miller, senior vice president of marketing and communications, Great Clips Inc. "Kasey has been a member of the Great Clips family for over 13 years and is a great ambassador of our brand. He embodies the same qualities and values that are synonymous with Great Clips -- loyalty, family, dedication and a passion to succeed. "We have built a successful partnership with Hendrick Motorsports over the last several years that has allowed us to activate and elevate our brand and partner programs to a new level, and we are excited to be able to continue that into the future." Since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, Kahne, 36, has earned three Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berths and five race wins with the No. 5 team. The Enumclaw, Washington, native has 17 career victories, 27 pole positions and 165 top-10 finishes in NASCAR's top division. "Great Clips has a very strong culture," said Rick Hendrick , owner of Hendrick Motorsports . "The company cares deeply about relationships with their customers, franchisees, stylists, corporate staff and partners. We’ve enjoyed working together to build an effective program, and it's been terrific to see the Great Clips business grow over that time. We're committed to their success and look forward to the future." Minneapolis-based Great Clips, which has more than 4,000 locations and 1,200 salon owners who employ 40,000 stylists throughout the United States and Canada, has a long history with Kahne. Since 2003, the company has supported his efforts as both a driver and car owner across multiple racing series. "Great Clips has believed in me throughout my career," Kahne said. "They're a big part of the No. 5 team, and we feel like members of their team, too. It's been an awesome partnership, and I'm grateful for their commitment and support. It means a lot to represent them on and off the track."
Elliott: Hendrick's recent surge a group effort
RELATED: Dover on-track schedule " Chase Grid DOVER, Del. -- Chase Elliott 's average finish during the six-race stretch from Sonoma in late June to early August at Pocono was a sour 27.67. His past six races? 10.3. The Hendrick Motorsports rookie certainly appears to be over his summer slump. "I was really proud of the way we ran last weekend," Elliott said Friday at Dover International Speedway . "We ran inside the top five the majority of the day. That was a huge improvement for our group. Loudon is a terrible race track for me, so I was really happy with just the fact that we were able to be kind of in that group." Still in his freshman year in the Sprint Cup Series, this marks 20-year-old Elliott's first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup appearance. He's joined in the 16-car playoffs by teammate Jimmie Johnson , who has been a part of each Chase since its inaugural run in 2004. Like Elliott, Johnson's No. 48 team also struggled throughout the summer, but appears to be back to its form of running in the top bracket. Even the non-Chase cars of Kasey Kahne (No. 5) and Alex Bowman (No. 88), fill-in driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., have shown speed in recent weeks. The teamwide improvements beg the question: Has the Hendrick Motorsports organization found something in time for the Chase? Elliott thinks it's bigger than that. "I know that our engine department has been working really hard," Elliott said. "I think that you see their improvements across the board, not just Hendrick cars, but I have a lot of respect for Mr. ( Rick ) Hendrick and everybody at the engine shop for making their engine program so fair … I think when you see an improvement in the engine shop you are going to see that across the board and I think we've seen that the past couple of weeks. I think there is definitely something there." The No. 24 shop individually has also done its part to put together the jigsaw that seemed to puzzle the Hendrick group in the summer weeks leading up to the Chase. "I know Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and our group has been pushing really hard on that front trying to improve, trying to get the best stuff we can get pumped out of the shop and to the race track," Elliott said. "I think it's a little bit of both to be honest with you and I think we are moving in the right direction on some items that I think we’ve been missing. That is encouraging to me." An encouraged Elliott has elevated his team to ninth of 16 on the Chase Grid, 16 points ahead of the cutoff line. Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) marks the first elimination race of the season that will narrow the field from 16 to 12. Based on recent trends, Elliott's chances at advancing to the next round are strong, provided he's able to tame the Monster Mile, a track where he finished third in May. And from there, the rookie could go all the way to the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "I 100 percent think our group or Jimmie's group could make it," Elliott said on the possibility. "I feel confident in that. I think we've been fast enough these first two weeks to do it, but obviously you have to have some things go your way throughout this deal and you've got to execute your races and try to stay mistake free."