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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season officially begins today.

With the Daytona 500 comes a fresh start, and Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick can’t wait to capitalize on it.

“None of us were happy about last year – it was a rough year,” he said. “Now, we’ve got new blood, we’ve got a new way of going at it and everybody’s excited. When you’ve been on top and you’re not there, it motivates you to go back. We’re not a company that just wants to show up. We don’t want to just show up and be in the pack. If we can’t compete for a win, then it drives all of us crazy.

“We understand that some of these young guys are going to have some learning curves. That’s OK. But we’re working toward a goal. The goal is we’re winners and we’re going after it. Whatever it takes, we’re going to do, because we’re not satisfied with sitting in the back. We’re not satisfied not leading laps. We didn’t forget how to race, and we’re all motivated because we don’t like not to win.”

Hendrick Motorsports will become the first organization in NASCAR history to start three drivers under the age of 25 in the Daytona 500: Alex Bowman (24), Chase Elliott (22) and William Byron (20). That trio will be joined by the only multiple-time Daytona 500 winner in the field this year, Jimmie Johnson.

And all four teammates will pilot their brand-new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1s.

Hendrick has already liked what he has seen from his four-driver stable and the new Chevrolet model. It all adds up to create an abundance of excitement.

“The car is exciting because it’s brand new,” Hendrick began. “The team is exciting because we’ve got some new youth with William Byron, who is a phenomenon, and Alex Bowman, who I believe has got as much raw talent as anyone. We’ve got Chase Elliott, who has just been unbelievable – been robbed a couple of times of wins but had one of the best records in the playoffs of anyone. And then you’ve got seven-time, and I’ve never seen Jimmie Johnson more focused, more committed, more wanting to go back to that head table than I’ve seen Jimmie here lately. So, I’m excited. We’ve got the youth, we’ve got the champion and we’re all working together closer than we ever have.”

Needless to say, Hendrick – along with the entire organization – is ready to get the season going.

“If you get a group of people that believe in each other and will work together and check their egos at the door, it’s hard to stop that train. And we’ve got that with this group,” he said.

“This is going to be a great year.”