CONCORD, N.C. – Next Friday, Rick Hendrick will officially be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
And it still hasn’t quite sunk in for the Hendrick Motorsports owner.
“It’s really hard to believe I’m actually going into the Hall of Fame,” he said. “I think it feels a lot like the first time I went to New York after I won a championship -- the first championship. It’s an unbelievable accomplishment when you dreamed about being involved in a sport or just watching the sport. And to think that now you’re being recognized in the Hall of Fame, it’s a really emotional and a very special feeling.”
Since Hendrick founded the organization in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed 245 wins, 210 pole positions, more than 1,000 top-five finishes and nearly 1,700 top-10s.
And – most importantly – a record 12 NASCAR Cup Series championships, including Jimmie Johnson’s record-tying seventh title in 2016.
Still, Hendrick has never viewed himself in the same vein as the Hall of Famers that have come before him. That’s why he has been so moved by the honor.
“I just owe so much of my life to the sport,” he said. “It’s more than just, ‘Hey, this is cool.’ It’s more than that for me. It’s just very, very humbling to me that I could even be looked at. I never really look at myself in that kind of light and to be in that position. … I want to accept it for all those people that helped do it.”
After closing out 2016 with a 12th car owner championship in the sport’s premier series, Hendrick is kicking off 2017 by officially becoming a Hall of Famer.
“I think the word is humbling,” Hendrick said, “because it’s something that I never thought I’d ever race in NASCAR, I never thought that I’d ever win a NASCAR race, I never really thought we’d win a championship and now to be in the position we’re in to win as much and have the success we’ve had and to be recognized as doing something in the sport to get into the Hall, it’s a tremendous honor.”