JR Motorsports ramps up with 2017 expansion
RELATED: Driver Tracker " On the move: Changes in store for 2017 The encore for an organization that placed both of its full-time drivers into the Championship 4 field in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase last year has the chance to be even greater. JR Motorsports has that unique possibility, an opportunity granted by not sitting still. Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier return to the fold after prosperous debut years with the team, but that's where the offseason status quo ends. JRM plans a full-court press for the upcoming XFINITY season, expanding from two to four full-time drivers in an all-out push to bring home the championship it barely missed out on in 2017. "To have that opportunity to go up against three teammates, to see the growth in our shop, to see the growth in our teams, it's really, really fun to watch," Allgaier said. "I feel like if you came back here next year and said we'd have four cars from JR Motorsports in the final four, it wouldn't surprise me at all." A four-car sweep for the Homestead-Miami finale in November would mean stellar introductions by the two newest faces in the JRM stable: up-and-coming teenager William Byron, a NASCAR Next alum, and 30-year-old vet Michael Annett , back in XFINITY after a three-year stint in NASCAR's top division. The addition of Byron, a 19-year-old prospect in the Hendrick Motorsports system, actually counts as a reunion. The Liberty University student was a former driver for JRM's Late Model program on the weekly and touring level. His teammates have already seen what he can do in top-level equipment. Byron won seven times in his rookie NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, with only a crucial engine failure in 2016's penultimate race keeping him from the championship fight. It's the reason Sadler has touted him as "a star of the future" and why Allgaier echoed the thought, calling Byron "an absolute class act and an amazing talent." Kelley Earnhardt Miller -- who co-owns JRM with her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- spoke with tones of regret in describing how Byron got away in late 2015, snapped up by Kyle Busch Motorsports and seemingly earmarked for an upward career arc in the Toyota pipeline. That changed last August when team owner Rick Hendrick brought him back into the Chevrolet camp, cognizant of the creeping advancement in age of his Monster Energy Cup Series roster. "For that to all come back full circle, we're real excited about it," Earnhardt Miller told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio last month. "He's just a great kid and a good family, and his story is just so cool -- doing the computer racing [on iRacing] and then telling his dad he wants to race and then not racing until he was 15. It's just a good story. But Mr. Hendrick deserves the credit there, trying to look at his next moves because he's going to have some drivers that are on the retirement horizon in the next several years, so smart move for him to make all that happen." Said Byron: "I just remember their ultimate goal for me when I started racing Late Models was so I could race an XFINITY car there. In a weird way, I got back to that and it's going to be really cool to return next year." To accommodate the escalated XFINITY Series growth, which Earnhardt Miller said has maxed out the team's resources, JR Motorsports has closed its truck series operation. Cole Custer , who drove the JRM No. 00 truck the last two seasons, has since moved on to Stewart-Haas Racing 's XFINITY program. As in past years, JR Motorsports plans to run an extra XFINITY entry in select races with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers Earnhardt and Kasey Kahne behind the wheel for two races each. But at the heart of its growth are the core four XFINITY regulars, a direction chosen in light of new driver participation guidelines that go into effect in 2017. The continuity will keep JRM from scrambling to shuffle its roster once the Chase playoff begins and the limits on Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers moonlighting in the XFINITY ranks become more stringent. But the organization will still need to make inroads against stout competition, especially Joe Gibbs Racing , which won 19 of the 33 XFINITY races last season and took the other two spots in the four-driver championship round. Reminded of the heady assignment a day after last season's finale, Allgaier was unwavering. "Even with the Gibbs guys," Allgaier said. "I don't know, I just feel like with the packages that we've seen of what's a possibility for the XFINITY Series next year, the work that we're doing at the shop and the cars and just all the things that we've been working on, I really think next year's an opportunity for us at JR Motorsports ."
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."
Hendrick Motorsports welcomes 2017 pit crew class
MORE: No. 48 pit crew coach discusses recent pit road mishaps In a building filled with banners, trophies and famed race cars, five newcomers entered Hendrick Motorsports ' Nos. 48 and 88 shop as part of their induction to the decorated four-car organization, carving out their own slice of history. These five young men, coming from various backgrounds, stood together -- a united group -- as part of the Hendrick's 2017 pit crew class for its second annual signing day. Completing the class are: TJ Semke, Mason Harris, Austin Holland, Timmy Hall and Dylan Intemann. The quintet were joined by Andy Papathanassiou, Director of Human Performance, and Keith Flynn, Developmental Pit Crew Director. "To me the reason why we decided on a formal presentation of our pit crew recruits is because this really is, in my explanation, the completion of a dream, Papathanassiou said Thursday, looking at the 2017 class. "And to have something like NASCAR come in … and say, 'Hey, you can fufill your dream of being a professional athlete.' " The goal of this program is to have the recruits work their way up to eventually lining up behind the wall for one of Hendrick's Sprint Cup teams. "Over 100 guys came through and (only) five guys made it," Flynn revealed, highlighting the difficulties of the rigorous program that he manages. One of the inductees, Hall, says his four-year professional hockey career -- Hendrick's first hockey player recruit -- helped him prepare for not only the program, but also the NASCAR industry as a whole. "I think a ton of stuff translated over," the tire carrier hopeful revealed. "Obviously, just the practice and preparation that you are used to with hockey ... there's a lot of hand-eye coordination and hand skills involved. I think that really translates with tire changing, especially." All five Hendrick Motorsports recruits have extensive athletic backgrounds: Semke played football for three years at the University of Kansas; Harris was a four-year football player for the University of South Carolina; Holland briefly provided behind-the-wall support at Roush Fenway Racing ; and Intemann was an offensive lineman at Wake Forest University. Papathanassiou -- and the entire HMS organization -- are confident in this group, envisioning a promising future for the five in their motorsports careers. "They found us as much as we found them. And you're seeing the fruits of the labor of our constant year-after-year recruiting process."
The history of Hendrick Motorsports and full crews for Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Hendrick Motorsports plane forced to make emergency landing
A Hendrick Motorsports plane carrying team members was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning as the team traveled back from Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . According to a team spokesperson, the plane was diverted to Memphis International Airport after a presence of smoke was noticed in the plane's cabin. The plane landed safely and is being evaluated, according to the HMS spokesperson. No injuries were reported and none of the team's four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers were on board the aircraft. The passengers returned to North Carolina on another flight. Listen to the spotter for Jimmie Johnson 's No. 48 Chevrolet, Earl Barban, recount the flight in the video above. Jessica O'Brien, wife of Dale Earnhardt Jr . No. 88 engineer Tim O'Brien, tweeted the following reaction: This was scary to wake up to! Glad my hubby @tobrien82 & everyone at @hendrickfeedr are home & safe! https://t.co/8ZuwHQf92b — Jessica O'Brien (@EdgehillMgmt) March 7, 2016
Hendrick Motorsports ’ Martinsville story, a tale of two tracks
There is a team and a track sharing an emotional bond in southern Virginia. Go inside the story of triumph and tragedy that surrounds Hendrick Motorsports and Martinsville Speedway.
Hendrick Motorsports picks up new technical partner
CONCORD, N.C. (Jan. 18, 2016) -- WIX Filters has joined Hendrick Motorsports as a key technical partner with an agreement that will supply innovative filtration products and provide critical development support to the 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions through 2019. With a four-year pact, WIX's air and oil filters will be used in competition by the four Sprint Cup Series teams of Hendrick Motorsports with drivers Kasey Kahne , Chase Elliott , Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr . Its logo will be featured on team equipment, transporters and underneath the hood of Hendrick Motorsports ' Chevrolet SS race cars. "Since the early 1960s when Richard Petty began using our filters, generations of motorsports champions have driven to Victory Lane with WIX," said Jennifer Gibson, brand manager for WIX Filters. "Adding a team like Hendrick Motorsports only further positions us as the number-one filter in motorsports , and we couldn’t be more excited to see what that means on the track this season." "We pride ourselves on our technical superiority and high performance racing filters, and we like to align ourselves with the best," said Bill Stamey, engineering manager for WIX Filters. "Becoming a Hendrick Motorsports technical partner this race season is an incredible honor and a testament to our ongoing innovation and hard work." Hendrick Motorsports has earned 240 points-paying Sprint Cup wins since 1984, and its engines have more than 300 victories across all NASCAR series. Last season, the team’s engines posted wins in 14 of 36 Sprint Cup races and powered six Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contenders. "WIX Filters has been involved with NASCAR for nearly five decades," said Doug Duchardt, general manager of Hendrick Motorsports . "They not only will provide proven filters for our race cars but impressive capabilities in research and development. We know both their products and insights will ultimately help improve our performance. It’s an exciting partnership for our entire competition group, and we look forward to many successes together."
Hendrick Motorsports welcomes new class of pit crew members
CONCORD, N.C. -- Hendrick Motorsports is in the midst of playoff season and enjoying the success of three of its drivers who are competing in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . And although one of NASCAR's most successful racing teams is focused on finishing off the 2015 season with another championship, they are also working on building a brighter future for years to come. The Hendrick organization hosted its first Signing Day for its developmental pit crew program Wednesday at its lavish No. 48 and 88 shop. Their introduction came against the backdrop of the shop's banners and trophies, honoring achievements set by the teams of Terry Labonte , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson and more. The seven men who participated in Signing Day are all former collegiate athletes and were chosen out of over 150 candidates for the annual recruitment process. The newcomers hope to pursue awards of their own, similar to the ones they are constantly surrounded by and to become a part of the company's lucrative 31-year history. Andy Papathanassiou, Director of Human Performance at Hendrick , opened the ceremony saying, "It's the people (here) that make the difference. And if you treat your people well they're going to want to perform not only for themselves but for you and for the company and for the team, and not only is that the best solution, it's the only solution to truly become a champion and to keep that championship mentality going." Another thing Papathanassiou highlighted was that the seven chosen are "not just here because they are big, strong guys … they're here for the way they think." And they all come from diverse backgrounds, most of which have little to do with NASCAR. Mike McClure, a former WWE prospect, was an All-American wrestler at Michigan State University and, too, an All-American in academics. McClure was at Michigan International Speedway for a race where he was recruited for the program. After receiving debilitating injuries in his journey to become a professional wrestler, McClure pursued the opportunity with Hendrick and is now working on honing his craft as a fueler and jackman. "Even on day one, I could tell they were genuine and they cared about the people here," explained McClure. Another recruit, Rod Cox, too, had "briefly seen NASCAR on TV," but knew he found his passion during his training at Hendrick . Cox, who played football at North Carolina State University and earned a degree in civil engineering, was convinced to join the organization after Coach Keith Flynn, Developmental Pit Crew Director, spoke to his football coach. "I met Coach Flynn and he was the greatest guy I had ever met," said Cox, an aspiring tire changer. "Everyone around here loves their job. I wake up in the morning like 'Man, I can’t wait to go practice and do my drills and lift weights and just enjoy everyone here.' " At the end of the event, Papathanassiou told NASCAR.com about how he is excited about the future and looking forward to the next chapter at Hendrick , with a new driver joining its Sprint Cup roster in Chase Elliott . "I think what's next for us is … we will have to redefine ourselves as a company. It's very exciting, especially with a guy like Chase Elliott . We could be on another 20-year run … another 20-year dominance."
Hendrick Motorsports 2016 team preview
2016 will provide a fresh face and veteran leadership to Hendrick Motorsports along with plenty of storylines as Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. look to return HMS to Victory Lane and the Championship 4.
Hendrick Motorsports sweeps Saturday Martinsville practices
RELATED: Logano leads opening practice at Martinsville Practice 3 recap " Practice 3 results Jimmie Johnson led the final Sprint Cup Series practice at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, topping the leaderboard with a speed of 97.108 mph. The Hendrick Motorsports driver completed his fastest lap on his fourth go-around of "The Paperclip" track out of 67 laps. Johnson has eight wins at Martinsville, tying with Jeff Gordon for the most victories among active Cup drivers at the Virginia short track. Kevin Harvick was second to "Six-Time" with a high speed of 96.721 mph in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Brad Keselowski (96.721 mph), Paul Menard (96.711 mph) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (96.538 mph) rounded out the top-five fastest. Defending race winner Earnhardt Jr. was fastest in Saturday's opening session. Polesitter Joey Logano was seventh-fastest in the closing session at 96.504 mph. Logano was the fastest in Friday's opening practice. The Team Penske driver is going for his fourth consecutive win, along with a ticket to the Championship 4 Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Kyle Busch was the slowest of the eight-driver Chase field, ranking 26th-fastest (95.854 mph). Denny Hamlin , Martinsville spring race winner, was ninth-fastest (96.386 mph). The Sprint Cup Series returns to the track on Sunday for the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at 1:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN/Live Extra, MRN, SiriusXM). Practice 2 recap " Practice 2 results After qualifying 22nd on Friday, Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 picked up some speed for Saturday's first practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The Hendrick Motorsports driver topped the leaderboard in his Chevrolet SS with a fast lap of 96.998 mph. Next was the No. 78 Chevrolet of Martin Truex Jr ., the fastest during this session among the remaining eight Chase contenders (96.879 mph). Rounding out the top three was Ryan Newman , who circled the .526-mile track at 96.874 mph in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Polesitter Joey Logano showed speed again today, snagging the fourth spot with a high speed of 96.755 mph in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford. The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin landed in the fifth position after posting a quick speed of 96.731 mph. Tony Stewart , who finished eighth, left the session with significant damage to his No. 14 after making contact with the wall. Stewart will start the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 in a backup car. Kasey Kahne , who wrecked in qualifying on Friday, will also start in a backup.