Jeff Gordon talks about how Rick Hendrick is more than just a car owner to him after the final race of his career at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
RELATED: Gordon reveals final paint scheme Paying a special tribute to Jeff Gordon 's final ride in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, the HMS team has collectively decided to run the famous " Jeff Gordon yellow" car numbers on Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne 's Chevrolets as well. "As (Gordon) drives the No. 24 for the last time this weekend, we want to do something special with all of our teams," Rick Hendrick said in a video released Tuesday on Twitter. "So our drivers and partners have gotten together to run the familiar ' Jeff Gordon yellow' for all of our car numbers at Homestead "We're excited to see those cars united on the track as a way to honor Jeff and support his run for a fifth championship." This weekend, we'll be honoring @JeffGordonWeb in a special way for his final #NASCAR race. #24ever pic.twitter.com/ln4M6Tx4lr — Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) November 17, 2015 Each team took to Twitter to share photos of the yellow car numbers. They. Are. BACK! @JimmieJohnson ’s yellow 48’s take the track once again this weekend to celebrate #24ever . pic.twitter.com/1iQOlrqspn — Team Lowe's Racing (@LowesRacing) November 17, 2015 Check out the yellow 88's on @DaleJr 's car this weekend to honor @JeffGordonWeb in his final #NASCAR race. #24ever pic.twitter.com/oWka2vVg78 — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) November 17, 2015 Proud to sport a yellow 5 this weekend to honor one of the greatest ever @JeffGordonWeb ! @TeamHendrick @GreatClips pic.twitter.com/9KRGAuQS6Y — Great Clips Racing (@GREATracing) November 17, 2015 And in the spirit of honoring the four-time Sprint Cup Series champion and future Hall of Famer, Sports Illustrated released a look at its cover for this week's publication, too. This week's national cover: @JeffGordonWeb 's victory lap https://t.co/2LfaDqhsDX pic.twitter.com/JH9m8Rz93u — Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 17, 2015
RELATED: Gordon keeps pedal down on way to Homestead Hendrick Motorsports , winner of six of the last nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships, fields four teams but only one will be going for the 2015 championship later this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway . It's a fact that team owner Rick Hendrick doesn't like to be reminded of, given his organization's run of success in the series. Three Hendrick drivers qualified for this year's 16-team Chase for the Sprint Cup field -- Jeff Gordon , a four-time champ; Jimmie Johnson , winner of six titles; and Dale Earnhardt Jr . Earnhardt is still chasing his first Sprint Cup crown. Teammate Kasey Kahne was the only Hendrick driver who failed to earn a berth in the 10-race playoff. Gordon qualified for the Championship Round at Homestead thanks to a win last weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Johnson failed to advance past the first round, while Earnhardt was eliminated after the second three-race segment. With only Gordon still title eligible, how does the organization balance what's best for the No. 24 team while not ignoring the needs of its other teams in the remaining three races? "The cool thing about our deal," Hendrick told NASCAR.com, "is all the stuff is the same. We don't play favorites over any of them. We give them the best stuff we've got -- all four of them. "So it won't be any different the next few races." While Gordon's efforts are top of mind, it's just as valuable for his other teams to continue to succeed as the season winds down, Hendrick said. It's just as important for Jimmie, Kasey and Dale," Hendrick said. "Dale's won twice, Jimmie's won four times this year, so it would be nice if Kasey could get a win. He's been running really well here lately, running up in the top five and top 10. "For all of those teams to end the year on a high is important because that momentum rolls you into next year. You go into the off-season kind of feeling like 'Man, I can't wait to go to Daytona.' "So yeah, it's important for all of them to run good."
Rick Hendrick discusses the range of emotions he will feel at Homestead-Miami Speedway and talks about his 'sales pitch' to keep Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 a few more years.
Rick Hendrick ’s interests span far beyond his love of racing and Corvettes. Mr. "H" gives NASCAR Illustrated a behind the scenes look at his impressive collection of rare guitars.
Jeff Gordon earned a berth in the Championship Round of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and according to team owner Rick Hendrick , it couldn't have come at a better time or taken place at a better track. Gordon, 44 and closing out one of the most impressive careers in the history of NASCAR, scored his 93rd career victory Sunday at Martinsville Speedway , automatically earning a chance to race for a fifth, and final, title three weeks from now at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "I won my first race (as an owner) there," with driver Geoff Bodine, Hendrick told NASCAR.com on Tuesday. It was a victory that "kept us alive," he said. This most recent win "puts Jeff in the Chase in his final year. … He's been such a big asset to our company and to me personally as a friend. It's pretty darn special." Hendrick said there were several things that made Sunday's victory in the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 more meaningful than most. Which is pretty strong when one considers that Hendrick teams have won 238 points races, including the Daytona 500 , Brickyard 400, Southern 500 and Coca-Cola 600 . Legendary races at legendary facilities. "We were so close last year with Jeff," Hendrick said. "We go to Texas leading the points (and) he gets taken out. We go to Phoenix, he runs second. He goes to Homestead and leads the better part of that race and you think what could have been. Because the race was actually over in Texas and they threw that damn caution. That was kind of bitter. "You start this year and we didn't run as good this year as we did a year ago. Then you go to Martinsville, a place that's been so good to us, the 22 or so wins, and it's been a place where we've had tragedy. … "To see him on his 'farewell tour,' his last race, go to Homestead and be one of four cars that have a shot to win the championship, I think that's a storybook (finish) all in itself, no matter how he ends up. That's a great deal. It's going to be special for a lot of his fans and the sport itself. I just think Martinsville was a super, unbelievable win. It's got to go in there, probably ranks as one of the most important and special wins in our career." Gordon won championships for Hendrick in 1995, '97-98 and '01. He has not won a title since the Chase format was adopted in 2004, but has finished as high as second (2007). As of now, he's the only driver guaranteed to be racing for the championship. Stops at Texas, up this weekend, and Phoenix in two weeks, will trim the eight-driver field down to its final four. "I think by winning early for Jeff, he won't be as nervous at Phoenix and he won't be as nervous at Texas and there will be a whole lot of guys around you racing awfully nervous," Hendrick said, "… a mistake's going to cost them. "There are a lot of good guys and it's going to be really interesting to see who the final four are going to be, when you've got some guys at the bottom that are on the outside looking in. Somebody's going to be disappointed in the next two weeks." Gordon has driven for no other team owner in the Sprint Cup Series since making his debut with HMS at the end of the 1992 season. Hendrick has seen the driver thoroughly dominate the competition – he won 47 races in a five-year span between '95 and '99 – and he's seen him struggle, going winless in '08 and '10. Although Sunday's victory was Gordon's first of the season, Hendrick says he knows the No. 24 team has the talent and ability to win the title. "Just knowing Jeff Gordon and how he can step it up when it's time," he said. "He's not going to go back there and turn over people to run 15th or 11th. "You haven't seen him in a situation where it's all the marbles for a championship. Usually you work all year long and it's every single week. Now it's a one-race championship really, that's what it's come down to. At a place where he won the race the year before last, led a lot of laps last year. Different rules, but he likes the track, just like Martinsville." Hendrick would like nothing better than to see his driver go out on top, a fitting end to an amazing career. The stakes won't be any higher but the owner says he has no trouble keeping things in perspective. "It ain't life-threatening, that's what I always say," Hendrick said. "I've learned if you let it eat you alive, you never get better. When we lose, it motivates us to go back and work harder. "We're just going to do the best we can; we'll go down there with the best stuff we have and try to beat the rest of them. "We made it this far; we made it to the final round and right now we're the only ones that can say that."
CONCORD, N.C. -- The days of penciling in a Hendrick Motorsports team as a championship contender aren't exactly over, but it would be inaccurate to describe the four-team organization as peaking with just one race remaining before the start of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . A year ago, HMS had all four of its teams, with drivers Jimmie Johnson , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne , ready for the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' 10-race playoff. Heading into this weekend's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR), only Johnson and Earnhardt have secured bids for the 16-team Chase. Gordon can make the field based on his position in the points standings (he needs to finish 17th or higher Saturday night) or with a victory, while Kahne mathematically can get in on points but more likely needs a win to get in. RELATED: Updated standings The Chase officially gets underway Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway . While many organizations would be content with such a scenario, team owner Rick Hendrick knows that’s not what's expected from his group -- which has won 11 series titles. Hendrick engines and chassis have also been on the entries of eight of the last nine championship-winning teams (including those won by Stewart-Haas Racing 's Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart ). The bar rests high for his organization, Hendrick said Tuesday at the HMS campus. "People catch up; people work hard," he said. "Rule package, rule changes, usually we're on top of it and we come out in front. "To think that you can be in this sport every single year and be the dominant guy that wins them all, that isn't going to happen. NASCAR isn't going to let that happen." Johnson won four of this year's first 13 races, equaling his win total from a year ago, while Earnhardt Jr. has a pair of victories this season. Earnhardt Jr. has five top-10 finishes since his win in the July Daytona race; Johnson and Gordon have three while Kahne has none. Combined, the four have led just seven laps in the past eight races, a statistic that doesn't please the team owner. "It's just part of it," Hendrick said. "I'm a big fan of (Winston) Churchill … I don’t like it when we're behind, but it motivates me. We've just got to work hard, work smart and we'll be back. "We get in position in Darlington where we have three in the top six or seven and we run out of tires and that's our fault. … Maybe we just didn't use the right strategy, who knows? There's been a lot of that this year. We've just fumbled the ball more than normal." Earnhardt Jr., who finished eighth, was the only HMS driver to finish in the top 10 at Darlington Raceway this past weekend. Kahne finished 12th, Gordon 15th and Johnson 19th. RELATED: Results from Southern 500 HMS personnel aren't blind to the situation. "We know as a company … we see the obvious," Earnhardt Jr. said during Tuesday's edition of the "Dale Jr. Download" podcast heard on Dirty Mo Radio. "We see we've got to improve and get more speed. We as a whole group sense that." Knowing the strength and past success of the organization tempers concerns with the Chase on the horizon. "I'm real confident that our company's going to be able to find what they want and what they're looking for," Earnhardt Jr. said. "They always have." While his group may not be competing at the level expected, Hendrick isn't ready to toss in the towel. He admits the organization, as a whole, is "off a little bit." "Maybe we're the same and everybody else is better," he said. "We've had a lot of success and these people want it and they want it bad. They have a lot of pride and they don’t like to be beaten. So does Joe Gibbs (Racing), so does (Team) Penske, so does everybody out there. "The question is how do you get back?" JGR and Penske teams have been the teams to beat of late, with JGR drivers winning seven of the past 10 races and Penske teams scoring two wins in that stretch. "We've been (there) before when we weren't looked at as the best team out there, the best record or whatever," Hendrick said. "But it isn't over yet. So you go ahead and count us out."
( Photo courtesy of: Hendrick Motorsports ) RELATED: Darlington's throwback paint schemes Hendrick Motorsports and driver Kasey Kahne will pay tribute to the organization's inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season this weekend with a special throwback paint scheme similar to the one run by former driver Geoff Bodine. The majority of Sprint Cup Series teams will feature retro paint schemes on their cars this weekend as part of the return of the annual Bojangles' Southern 500 to Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway . Known at the time as All-Star Racing, team owner Rick Hendrick fielded the No. 5 Chevrolet for Bodine with veteran crew chief Harry Hyde calling the shots during the 1984 season. If not for a victory by Bodine, his first in the series, at Martinsville Speedway , the successful Hendrick Motorsports organization of today might never have existed. "We finished 35th in our first Darlington race back in '84 and nearly closed the doors," team owner Rick Hendrick said. "Martinsville was next on the schedule, and Harry Hyde did a great sales job and talked me into running one more race. "He was convinced Geoff could win (at Martinsville) and, thankfully, he was right. We were able to get a sponsor (Northwestern Security Life), which allowed us to finish the season and set the table for everything that's happened since." Today, HMS is a four-team Sprint Cup organization fielding entries for Kahne, Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr . HMS drivers have won 11 Sprint Cup titles (Johnson 6, Gordon 4, Terry Labonte 1) and 237 races. "There's so much history at Hendrick Motorsports with the wins and championships, so to go back to when it started with All-Star Racing, Geoff Bodine and that paint scheme is great," Kahne, who will run the retro look at Darlington as well as Richmond International Raceway , said. "It would mean a lot to win the Southern 500. It's always been one of the races that I've wanted to win … To do it in this car that time of the year right before the Chase, it would be a perfect time." RELATED: Kahne knows he needs win to earn Chase berth As part of a two-race partnership between Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Automotive Group, fans can register to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Charlotte, N.C. for a ride-along with Kahne as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of HMS. Click here for more information. "We've had a lot of success when our two companies have worked together on programs," Hendrick said "When Darlington announced the throwback concept, we thought it would be a great opportunity to bring back the All-Star Racing car and build a sweepstakes for fans and customers. "Seeing the paint scheme on the track at Darlington and Richmond will bring back a lot of memories."
RELATED: See who is in the Chase Officials with Hendrick Motorsports have announced two-year contract extensions for six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and primary team sponsor Lowe's. The extensions, which were announced today via press release, run through the 2017 season. Johnson, 39, is the No. 1 seed in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , which gets underway with Sunday's myAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). A four-time winner this season, Johnson is attempting to become only the third driver in series history to win seven premier series titles, joining Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt. He is a 74-time race winner in the series and is only two victories short of tying Earnhardt for seventh on the all-time win list. Johnson is the only driver to capture five consecutive Sprint Cup championships (2006-10). He and crew chief Chad Knaus have been paired together at Hendrick since the 2002 season. "My relationship with Lowe's and Hendrick Motorsports means so much," Johnson said in a team release. "To me, this just reinforces how committed Lowe's is to our sport and to our partnership. It says a lot to have one sponsor and one team for this amount of time. I couldn't be prouder to represent everyone at Lowe's and Hendrick Motorsports . This is my home, and I'm looking forward to many more victories together as a team." Knaus, whose latest contract extension runs through 2018, won championships as a crewman with teammate Jeff Gordon in '95 and '97 prior to being named crew chief for Johnson. "The contributions Jimmie and Chad have made to Hendrick Motorsports can't be overstated," team owner Rick Hendrick said. "When Lowe's took a chance by sponsoring the No. 48 team back in 2001, we never could've envisioned the results. It's a championship combination and genuine partnership that we're proud to continue and committed to develop even further." RELATED: Johnson discusses his outlook heading into the Chase Lowe's, the North Carolina-based home improvement chain, has been the No. 48 team's primary sponsor since 2002. It also backed the team for three races in 2001. The company funded the efforts of drivers Brett Bodine ('95-96) and Mike Skinner ('97-01) before aligning with Hendrick . "Their dedication … not only to Hendrick Motorsports but to the NASCAR community and our fans, has been absolutely incredible," Hendrick said. "We're fortunate to work with a company that's truly passionate about our sport and shares many of our organization's core values." Hendrick teams have won 11 premier series titles and 237 races since debuting in NASCAR in 1984 as a single-car entity with driver Geoff Bodine. RELATED: Where will Johnson be for Chase Across North America? In addition to Johnson, HMS also fields NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries for drivers Jeff Gordon , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Kasey Kahne . Gordon, a four-time series champion, will retire from driving at the end of 2015. He will be replaced by defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott . Earnhardt Jr. is signed through the 2017 season while Kahne's contract was renewed late last year and will keep the Enumclaw, Washington, native on board through 2018. Gordon and Earnhardt Jr. will join Johnson in this year's 16-team Chase field.
RELATED: Full race results " Gordon's final race in photos HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Jeff Gordon sat in his parked silver No. 24 Chevrolet for an extended time on pit road following Sunday's season-ending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race; his helmet on, his heart still beating fast. After several minutes, he exited his race car for the final time in 23 years of amazing, highest-level effort after a sixth-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- good enough for third place in his final Sprint Cup championship run. But instead of getting emotional about the end of his certain Hall-of-Fame career, the four-time champ found himself immediately reassuring others as the sellout crowd cheered loudly. Gordon's only team owner, Rick Hendrick , inserted himself between television interviews for an embrace with Gordon, the two speaking privately at length. "I'm real happy for him," Hendrick said. "I told him I loved him. And he said he loved me. I thanked him for all the years." Hendrick then walked away with Gordon's final race helmet, a gift the driver had planned for some time. Moments later Gordon's wife, Ingrid, arrived at his side on pit road for a kiss and long hug. Then she looked up into the sky, tears in her eyes, as Gordon, 44, bent down and embraced his children, Ella, 8, and Leo, 5. Gordon was as strong and vibrant in his goodbye as he was throughout a 93-win, high-achieving career that started out mustachioed and celebrated, Dale Earnhardt milquetoasted and, finally, fittingly much-appreciated. RELATED: Full coverage of Gordon's final race All those who booed the kid who won too much, cheered the man who transformed the sport. It was a two-way street this weekend in South Florida. "Well, we all know nothing would have been quite better than the win," Gordon said. "But I've learned a lot in life, and there's no such thing as a perfect day and a perfect life. Just like there's no such thing as a perfect race car. They're really close and good and at times better than the rest, but it doesn't mean that they're ever perfect." Throughout the weekend Gordon was acknowledged and honored by everyone who knew him from family, to sponsors to his fiercest competitors. During the rain-delayed driver introduction session, Formula One champ Lewis Hamilton stood with Gordon and took photos with the four-time NASCAR champ, looking far more fan than racing champion himself. Several IndyCar Series drivers made the trip to South Florida to bid Gordon goodbye, including Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Josef Newgarden. "Of course," Mario Andretti said of attending the race to support Gordon. "He's an icon. Not just the personality he brought to the sport as a racer, but as a person himself. He's been a big contributor to NASCAR's personality, no doubt about it. He will be missed, but he won't be going too far away. "He's certainly kept up the time. He's still a young man and he's retiring relatively young, which is wonderful. He's on top of his game and you can't do any better than that. He's living a wonderful life and he's the envy of a lot of people for what he's done. I just wish him well." Gordon conceded he was impressed and endeared by the pair's presence at his celebrated final race. "I do believe he's the greatest driver of all time," Gordon said of Andretti. "And Lewis, I met at the Super Bowl a couple years ago. I'm a big fan of that sport. I was already a fan of his and he won the championship and we stayed in touch. I was trying to get him to come to a race and today was the race he could come to. " … I wouldn't necessarily say I'm in their league, but I have a ton of respect for them and am so happy they were here today." After an emotional driver introduction ceremony, Gordon walked with his daughter Ella down pit road, waving to the sellout crowd that would surprise him at race start with front grandstands fan placards that spelled out, "Thank You Jeff. 24Ever" As Gordon's car rolled off pit road to start the race, pit crew members from all the teams stood along the pit wall to clap and honor him. WATCH: Pit crews honor Gordon Earlier, Gordon's afternoon included a standing ovation at the driver's meeting and a short clip of Gordon, showing him from his earliest open-wheel days to his NASCAR entree and some of his finest multiple winning moments. The support was a theme throughout the weekend. Fans crowded around Gordon's team hauler in the infield, and he had to have security personnel from the South Miami Police guard his No. 24 as it snaked through the garage for final inspection Sunday morning. About 100 fans stood behind temporary barriers at Gordon's team transporter in the garage hoping for a glimpse of the real thing. Carla Piccarreto and her 24-year-old son James traveled to South Florida from upstate New York and had been standing at Gordon's team transporter since the garage opened -- about three hours. They'd still not seen Gordon by race morning but were intent to wait it out for him. "Yesterday we saw the crowd swarm him, chanting his name and we were afraid for him," Carla said, smiling. Standing next to her, Joe Fiorello, 39, of Delray Beach, Florida, was wearing his best -- if faded, and mustard-stained -- original Jeff Gordon T-shirt. Jeffrey Jones was in the group, as well, holding a custom-made guitar shaped in a 24. He gave one to Hendrick earlier in the week and left a rainbow-colored version with the team for Gordon. WATCH: Fans salute Gordon with card trick Timothy and Britney Prior were also standing outside Gordon's team hauler hoping for a photo, autograph or handshake. They drove 14 hours from Danville, Virginia, to attend the event and support their favorite driver. The couple is so committed that Timothy's back is completely tattooed with Gordon's cars and even Gordon's signature, something they got back in 2011. While the couple didn't have a chance to see their favorite driver in the garage, they did after the race -- and Gordon had Timothy tag along to his post-race press conference, where he introduced the longtime supporter. "You want to talk about commitment and a loyal fan and a nice guy, this guy is awesome," Gordon said. "Now that right there, folks, that's commitment. That is commitment. "But I just happened to run into him on the way in here, and I just wanted him to be here and be a part of it because he's a huge fan, and I appreciate him and all of our fans so much, especially what I saw this weekend." RELATED: Gordon says, 'We're still going to celebrate' As Gordon spoke to the media after the race, he seemed truly at peace, extremely happy and, as we know, as accomplished a modern-day driver as one could be. His final race was fitting and he will leave South Florida -- after a big party Sunday night -- feeling fulfilled, respected and loved. "That sendoff at the drivers' meeting, you know, drivers are so competitive, and they don't show ‑‑ they might have it inside them, but to show it publicly, their appreciation for other competitors, just doesn't happen like that very often, and I really, really appreciate it very, very much," Gordon said. "I'm looking forward to the rest of the evening, as well. "Talking more about my career and the moments and what it's all meant to me, this is why me and my mom having this conversation this morning was so important to me. We talked about the television station that filmed my quarter midget race when I was like 6 years old and I never understood why. I found out I was on the cover of a kids magazine with my quarter midget. "To come from that and have this ... it blows my mind. Just being here and part of my day, to wrap up this amazing career it didn't take a championship for me to feel like I'm on top of the world."