CONCORD, N.C. -- Hendrick Motorsports president Marshall Carlson could not be more proud of the organization’s four teams. Three of four of the crews were playoff contenders in 2020 and Chase Elliott’s title win at Phoenix Raceway added a 13th championship to owner Rick Hendrick’s name.
While Carlson was thrilled with the championship effort, Elliott’s back-against-the-wall win the week before at Martinsville Speedway is what excited him the most.
“The mood at Hendrick Motorsports (has been) just electric here in the last couple weeks," Carlson said on SiriusXM. "I think the thing that I’m most amazed by is how my teammates here and all the folks here rallied by Mr. Hendrick and really responded to the call to 'Let’s get back on our A-game.'
“The tides started to turn. (We have) amazing racers here, a 'never give up' attitude, and we needed it and did it. Mr. H. just rallied us back into championship mode, and it’s been fun to watch.”
Carlson described the week leading up to the championship at Phoenix as emotional. Seeing Elliott and his parents, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott and Cindy Elliott, celebrate his first title was a heartwarming moment for Carlson to witness.
“We met Chase 10 years ago when he was 14 years old, and Bill and Cindy had done so much work with him already and given up themselves to prepare him for an opportunity to perform,” Carlson said. “He’s always been an amazing man now, and young man then. Watching someone come from 14 years old to 24 in the most competitive form of motor racing on the earth – that was emotionally moving.”
Carlson lauded Alan Gustafson, as well. The 45-year-old crew chief has come close to winning a title before but his partnership with Elliott this year sealed the deal. Gustafson’s desire to always improve hasn’t been lost on Carlson or the rest of the organization.
“Coming on the end of the craziest year I think any of us have had, I know for me for sure, not just for our sport but life in general, to watch a team be able to overcome all circumstances and succeed in that environment – it was really cool to watch,” Carlson said.
According to Carlson, the future is only going to get better for Hendrick Motorsports. The organization, along with all of NASCAR, overcame huge hurdles after working through the coronavirus pandemic and safely returning to the track. Carlson said that would not have been possible without the support of NASCAR and its fans.
“A huge thank you and credit to monumental effort and results that NASCAR made in getting us to the finish line in the 2020 season,” Carlson said. “I think that’ll go down as one of the most amazing stories of this year for me. Thanks to all the fans – the sport runs on them and their interest and (I’m) grateful for all of them tuning in to the show.”