CONCORD, N.C. – Rick Hendrick’s motto has always been “people first,” and that influence is heavily felt among his four young drivers at Hendrick Motorsports.

Chase Elliott said Hendrick “changed my life” starting more than 10 years ago, when Elliott starting racing in a developmental program under Hendrick’s guidance. Now the 25-year-old driver is looking to win his second NASCAR Cup Series championship in a row this weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

“I was offered an opportunity that I likely wasn't going to have anywhere else,” Elliott said of his beginnings at Hendrick Motorsports. “He believed in me at a point in time where nobody else was probably going to, and when someone gives you that opportunity, you hold it close to your heart and you want to do a good job for that person and to make that person proud.”

Kyle Larson, who also is vying for a NASCAR Cup Series title, had known Hendrick from afar but didn’t start cultivating a relationship with him until 2020. Hendrick signed Larson to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in October of last year, which kicked off one of the most dominant seasons in Hendrick Motorsports’ history.

“Rick is a special person to everybody, but to me, it means a lot for him to take a big chance on me and get me into this organization this year,” Larson said. “I’m new here – I’m, like, the newest person here. So, listening to everybody else and their stories of Rick and why they respect him so much – which I’ve always heard stories and I’ve known how well-respected he was before I got here – but to see it first hand from employees here or the dealership or wherever it may be, it just shows me how to be a better person like him.”

The pride both drivers have for their boss – and friend – is strong. Both Elliott and Larson contributed to Hendrick breaking Petty Enterprises’ all-time wins record this past spring. Earning Hendrick his record-extending 14th Cup Series title means more due to his generosity and kind nature.

“I think it’s easy to be selfish in life and worry about yourself,” Larson said. “Rick, I don’t feel like, is like that at all. He’s always helping others and listening to others and what they’re going through in their lives – positively or challenging. Not putting yourself first all the time is probably the thing I’ve learned from him from afar.”

For the first time since the modern playoff format was introduced in 2014, Hendrick will have two drivers racing for a title. Obviously, Elliott and Larson each want to be the driver to bring the championship trophy back to Hendrick Motorsports to cap off a successful season, but they also think Hendrick deserves this celebration due to his impact beyond motor sports.

“To be a very small piece of the puzzle here is an honor,” Elliott said. “It is a privilege, and I am proud to work for him and proud to call him our leader. I feel like he's a great one and I've enjoyed not only his leadership from a working environment, but his friendship over the years and how he is as a person.”

 Elliott and Larson will hit Phoenix Raceway on Sunday to try and earn Hendrick Motorsports' first back-to-back title in over 10 years. The race will begin at 3 p.m. ET and air on NBC.