CONCORD, N.C. – Tuesday at Hendrick Motorsports, team members from across the organization gathered for a special luncheon to prepare for the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick helped rally the group, as did a special guest: Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.
“I can’t believe this guy agreed to come do this today when he’s kicking off the season this weekend,” Hendrick said. “He’s hungry, he’s humble and he’s kind. He’s a car guy, and he’s a great friend of mine and a great friend of Hendrick Motorsports.”
Rivera took to the stage – after a brief interlude from Panthers mascot Sir Purr – and delivered a message about controlling what you can control and staying committed to the task at hand.
“When you do get to the playoffs, if it takes a little something extra, a little extra commitment, you’ve got to be willing to go out and do it,” Rivera said.
The coach shared some key tenants from his experience in the NFL, including being on time, holding yourself and others accountable, and being a competitor rather than just a participant.
Ultimately, he said, it’s about one thing.
“Be the standard,” he explained. “If you’re not the standard, you’re chasing someone. If you go out and be the standard that day, they chase you.”
When it comes to the playoffs, Rivera said he doesn’t buy into the old cliché that the intensity ratchets up.
“I don’t think you should have to ratchet it up going into the playoffs, because you should always have been competing at the highest level you can,” he said. “But it’s just that’s the way it is – the intensity increases because of outside forces. At the end of the day, control what you can.”
The coach said the most important thing to remember is that you win and lose as a group, so it’s about sticking together and doing your job.
Hendrick echoed that sentiment when he returned to the stage to close out the gathering.
Earlier in the day, the owner joined Chase Elliott for the traditional Hendrick Motorsports Victory Bell celebration in recognition of the No. 9 team’s Watkins Glen International win.
“This morning, with the Victory Bell, I got to shake everybody’s hand,” he said. “It really meant a lot to me. If you ask me why I do this or why I continue to do this at 70 years old, it’s because of shaking hands with all of you this morning.”
Hendrick reminded the crowd that Hendrick Motorsports is one big team – even more so, a family. And together, he knows what the group can accomplish with the playoffs set to begin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway following this weekend’s regular-season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“The strength of this group is stronger than anyone out there,” he said. “So we’re just going to keep working. I’ll give you whatever you need.
“I’m committed to whatever it takes.”