HAMPTON, Ga. – It might not have seemed like a grand gesture, but it spoke volumes.
Kasey Kahne had just made his way to Victory Lane for the first time in the 2014 season. As he celebrated with the rest of the No. 5 team, Jeff Gordon arrived for a big hug and high five.
“I’m so proud of you!” he shouted.
Then came Jimmie Johnson – another hug and high five. Right away, there was Dale Earnhardt Jr. – same thing.
Four teammates, moments after racing one another for the right to head to Victory Lane, celebrating one driver’s success.
“You know, that really was special to see all three of them come to Victory Lane to celebrate and congratulate Kasey and (No. 5 crew chief) Kenny (Francis),” Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick said. “I think that shows the kind of chemistry we have with our drivers, and they know they got to race each other, and they want to beat each other, but they were pulling for Kasey to get in.”
Kahne acknowledged that as he made his way off Turn 4 in first place and saw the checkered flag, the first people he thought of were Hendrick and all of his teammates at Hendrick Motorsports.
“Right there is the first time I knew I was in the Chase and it's such a relief,” Kahne said. “I have the best teammates and Mr. H gives us everything that we need and up until now we weren't going to be in the Chase and that hurt.”
But all that was erased Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and Hendrick couldn’t have been happier when he saw all the hard work come to fruition in Victory Lane, and four teammates celebrating.
“I looked up and saw them all standing there, and I was really proud of the organization when I saw that,” he said.