Hendrick Motorsports

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Track Spotlight: Hendrick at Daytona

Throughout the past two decades, Hendrick Motorsports has achieved great success on NASCAR’s most famous track, Daytona International Speedway.

As the teams prepare for this Sunday’s Daytona 500, they keep the memories of past victories fresh in their minds. Although it has been more than five years since a Hendrick team took the checkered flag in the February event, success for the organization came at the track’s July 2004 NEXTEL Cup Series event.

Last summer, No. 24 team driver Jeff Gordon took the DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet all the way to Victory Lane, with his three Hendrick teammates Jimmie Johnson, Terry Labonte and Brian Vickers not far behind. Johnson and the No.48 Lowe’s team snagged the runner-up spot in the race and veteran driver Labonte brought the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevy home in the eighth spot with rookie Brian Vickers right behind in the No. 25 GMAC/ditech.com machine.

All of the Hendrick teams finishing so close together in last year’s Pepsi 400 was reminiscent of the 1997 Daytona 500 when Gordon led teammates Labonte and Ricky Craven to the line. The 1-2-3 sweep lifted the spirits of team owner Rick Hendrick, who was at home battling leukemia.

As an organization, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed 20 wins at the world’s most famous superspeedway, with four of those victories coming in the form of Daytona 500 wins and three in the mid-summer classic, the Pepsi 400.

Adding to the seven points wins at the NEXTEL Cup level are a slew of non-points triumphs. The most recent occurred last Saturday night when Team Lowe’s Racing driver Johnson won the Bud Shootout. Hendrick has gone to the winner’s circle in five Bud Shootout events and in four Gatorade Twin 125’s, now know as the Gatorade Duel at Daytona. When the DuPont team scored their first Gatorade Twin 125 win in 1993, Gordon became the youngest driver in more than 30 years to take the event. The No. 24 team would triumph in the race once again in 2002.

The Hendrick NEXTEL Cup stable has also preformed well in the speedway’s time trials, taking the pole position eight times. Most recently Gordon and his crew snagged the organization’s eighth top starting position at the track when the DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet won qualifying in July of 2004.

On the Busch Series side, driver Geoff Bodine took a Hendrick Chevrolet to Daytona’s Victory Lane twice in his career with the organization. Bodine’s first Daytona Busch Series triumph came in February 1985 and then again in February of 1987.

Hendrick has even achieved success at the track in non-NASCAR sanctioned events. Last February, Kyle Busch rolled the No. 87 ditech.com Chevrolet into Victory Lane, giving the organization its first ARCA Series win at the Florida track.

With all of these accomplishments over the past decades, the Hendrick teams are looking to continue their winning tradition with a victory in the Daytona 500 this weekend.

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