HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick has earned a record 11 owner’s championships in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
He knows what’s on the line this Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He has been here before.
“It's hard to believe that we've been able to win this thing 11 times,” Hendrick said Friday afternoon at Homestead. “Really excited for Jimmie (Johnson) to go for seven.”
To demonstrate Hendrick Motorsports’ excitement level, Hendrick pointed to a pep rally the organization hosted on campus Wednesday to send Johnson and the No. 48 team to Homestead-Miami Speedway in style.
“He's excited. Our organization is excited,” he said. “It's going to be a very competitive race. I think the fans are going to get their money's worth.”
While Hendrick acknowledged that he would “love to win it” and see Johnson tie Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty atop the record books with seven Cup championships, he is entering the Championship 4 weekend with a unique outlook.
“I'm just happy to be here, because 20 years ago yesterday I was diagnosed with leukemia,” Hendrick recalled. “So, I'm just taking it like this is a great opportunity. We made it to the finals, and we're going to give it everything we've got. Somebody is going to come out of here the champion, and at least we have a shot.”
Hendrick said that while he will provide some final words of encouragement for Johnson and the No. 48 team before they tackle the final race of the season with a championship on the line, he will be cognizant of their mindset.
“They know what they've got to do,” he said. “These guys, all of them, are champions, and just let them go do their job and support them.”
He noted that he tries to keep as much pressure off of them as possible. Then, as No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus said this week, “let the chips fall where they may at the end.”
“They're going to have enough pressure,” Hendrick said. “I know all four of these teams have prepared the best we know how.
“Go out and do the best we can and leave it all on the track, and that's it.”