CONCORD, N.C. – Wednesday night, the NASCAR Hall of Fame came calling for Rick Hendrick.
It’s an achievement well-deserved by a man who is currently second on NASCAR’s all-time Cup victories list (1949-present) and leads all owners in modern-era wins (1972-present).
But it’s also something Hendrick never would have imagined back when he founded All-Star Racing in 1984.
“I would have thought you were crazy,” he said. “I was just trying to make it through the year.”
Now, 242 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins – and an organization name change to Hendrick Motorsports – later, Hendrick is a NASCAR Hall of Famer.
He acknowledged that the first time he showed up at Daytona International Speedway he wasn’t sure he fit in with the legends all around him. But he said that after more than 30 years as a team owner, he has plenty of teammates that helped him reach such lofty heights along the way.
“I’m going to accept this for all of the people from the very beginning in 1984 and all the guys like you who came in when you were what, 16, 17, cleaning up the shop and grew into being a crew chief and all the things you accomplished,” he said to NBC Sports’ Steve Letarte, formerly a crew chief at Hendrick Motorsports.
“I accept this for all the folks over all those years that worked so hard – the drivers, the crew chiefs, everybody that had a hand in it. And my wife for putting up with me for that long.”
Hendrick pioneered the modern multi-car team model, and his organization has garnered a NASCAR-record 14 national series owner’s championships and 15 overall – a record 11 in the Sprint Cup Series, three in the Camping World Truck Series and one in the XFINITY Series (driver’s title only).
And those Cup championships came via three different drivers, making Hendrick the only owner to have that distinction.
"I never dreamed that I would go into the Hall of Fame one day. I’m humbled and honored."Rick Hendrick
While he’s now a Hall of Famer, he’s not finished adding to those totals.
"I'm very, very appreciative of the fact that I got voted in while I'm still racing," he said. "But I hope we can add a lot more to the resume and win more races and more championships. We’ve got a lot left to do.”
His teams have won at least one Cup-level race each season since 1986 – the longest active streak – and averaged 10 points-paying wins annually over the last decade (2006-15).
Two drivers who raced for Hendrick will join the owner in the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class – Mark Martin and Benny Parsons.
The three men with Hendrick Motorsports ties are joined in the Hall by active team owner Richard Childress and Raymond Parks, one of stock-car racing’s earliest and most successful team owners.
“Boy, I’m in a great class along with a lot of great people,” Hendrick said. “I'm extremely proud to go in with Benny Parsons and Mark Martin, who drove for me. And then Richard Childress, who is one of my closest friends in the sport. ... I was watching that Raymond Parks movie the other night and I sure think he needed to be in there, too. It’s a great day.”
Born July 12, 1949, in Warrenton, North Carolina, Hendrick said he has simply been “honored to be involved in this sport.”
And now that he’s among the pillars of the industry in the Hall of Fame, he’s got some celebrating to do.
“I never dreamed that I would go into the Hall of Fame one day. I’m humbled and honored,” he said. “It hasn’t really hit home yet totally but I’m going to celebrate this with a lot of people – the list is going to be a mile long – that helped me get here.”
“I can’t really express what it means to me."