Group Hendrick heads dwelling to attempt to cross the King of NASCAR

AUSTIN, Texas — Hendrick Motorsports tied The King within the rain, spray and dust of Texas. Now it is time to go dwelling to see if it may cross Richard Petty as NASCAR’s winningest crew.

Chase Elliott’s victory within the rain-shortened Texas Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas earned Hendrick Motorsports win No. 268 to tie Petty Enterprises for many Cup wins in NASCAR historical past.

Subsequent cease: Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday for the Coca-Cola 600 — dwelling turf for crew proprietor Rick Hendrick to presumably make extra historical past. His group has a file 11 wins in NASCAR’s longest race.

“That is our dwelling monitor. That monitor means rather a lot to us. Our retailers are a couple of mile away,” Hendrick stated. “All people would be capable of have fun collectively. So that might be superior as a result of that’s our dwelling.”

Victory lane was reminiscence lane for Hendrick after Elliott’s win Sunday. The crew proprietor mirrored on his storied group and the partnership that nearly was when the crew launched in 1984.

“Richard Petty was going to be my first driver. I assumed we had a deal. It didn’t come collectively,” Hendrick stated. “The respect and admiration I’ve for him and Kyle, that complete household, it’s an enormous deal for me to be simply talked about with him.”

It will really feel even higher to beat him. The countdown to at the present time has been a long-time coming.

Hendrick began the crew with fewer than 20 full-time staff. It now has greater than 600. He was a technical adviser for the Tom Cruise film “Days of Thunder” and was one of many 4 unique house owners of the Charlotte Hornets.

By way of the years, he has battled leukemia, pleaded responsible to mail fraud and was later pardoned by President Clinton. In 2004, a aircraft owned by Hendrick Motorsports crashed, killing all 10 individuals aboard, together with Hendrick’s son, brother and twin nieces.

And whereas that preliminary Petty driving deal fell via, there have been different Corridor of Fame drivers within the Hendrick storage. Jeff Gordon gained 93 races and 4 championships driving for Hendrick. Jimmie Johnson gained 83 races and a record-tying seven championships. Terry Labonte gained 12 instances and one championship.

There have been tough instances too, like from 2017 to 2019 when Hendrick did not advance a driver into the championship spherical.

“I’ve been via some good instances, some unhealthy instances, on the high of the mountain, then couldn’t hit our butt,” Hendrick stated. “Labored onerous, stored going. I believe the check of an actual firm is whenever you get in these lows, you don’t level fingers and also you don’t bounce ship; you simply work.”

Hendrick recalled among the milestone victories alongside the way in which. The 1-2-3 end at Daytona in 1997. Johnson profitable his seventh championship to tie Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt within the final race of the season. Elliott profitable the title in Phoenix in 2020.

“Man, there’s simply so many. All of them are particular,” Hendrick stated.

The crew definitely has a profitable system once more. All 4 Hendrick drivers have gained this season, with Elliott lastly breaking via Sunday when NASCAR stopped the race due to the rain. It handed Elliott the twelfth win of his profession and made him the fortunate driver to assist the boss tie an vital NASCAR milestone.

“To tie Richard Petty clearly is an enormous one. The boss has been on us heavy about that file,” Elliott stated. “He desires that file.”

It mattered little to driver or crew proprietor that the tying victory got here in a race that was twice red-flagged in a downpour earlier than it was lastly known as with 14 laps to go.

Elliott, a highway course grasp, was favored to win and acquired himself to the entrance on the proper time. The poor circumstances led to almost-blind driving down the lengthy straightaway that unnerved some drivers and led to a few crashes that took out a number of automobiles.

Kevin Harvick, whose automotive was knocked out in one of many crashes, known as the circumstances too harmful to race.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice chairman of competitors, stated that in hindsight race officers maybe ought to have ended the race earlier.

“We definitely do not need to put anyone in hurt’s manner on the market,” Miller stated. “It is a a troublesome job for us to stability a aggressive occasion, a great present for the followers and with the drivers’ finest pursuits. Perhaps we did let it go a bit of too lengthy on the market.”

Hendrick and Elliott provided no opinion on how the race was officiated within the rain. However the timing of when it was known as delivered that milestone victory.

“Visibility is one factor, however whenever you hydroplane going nonetheless quick we’re going, that’s most likely not good. I believe that’s type of the state of affairs we discovered ourselves in there on the finish,” Elliott stated. “Clearly, I used to be on the nice finish of the decision, so I’m OK with the race ending.”

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Extra AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports activities

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