CONCORD, N.C. – Hendrick Motorsports has 250 NASCAR Cup Series wins, Chase Elliott has his first career Cup Series victory, and Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick might need a new pair of shoes.
Asked what it was like sitting through the final laps of Sunday’s thrilling race at Watkins Glen International, Hendrick said he wasn’t exactly stationary.
“I was not sitting – I was pacing,” he said. “It was the longest 20 laps that I have ever watched in a race. I wore out a pair of shoes walking around the living room. Just glued to the TV and on my phone texting. It was nerve-racking, but, man, what a great win.”
Hendrick Motorsports is now just the second organization in Cup Series history to reach 250 wins and sits second to only Petty Enterprises, which has 268 victories.
Hendrick said reaching the milestone speaks volumes about the support of the organization’s partners over the years.
“It feels so good to get a win for Chevrolet and for our sponsors,” he said. “Really happy for SunEnergy1, NAPA, Hooters and everybody on Chase’s car – 250 is a lot of races. I guess it means I’m an old man.”
And he couldn’t have been happier for Elliott’s first win to be the one that pushed the organization over the hump.
“Chase is such a great young man and such a super, unbelievable driver,” he said, venturing that with so many close calls, the driver of the No. 9 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 could have as many as seven or eight wins already under his belt.
“I hated he had to wait this long, but, boy, what a show he put on today pressing two of the best in the business and being up there all day and not making mistakes. He has got an awesome amount of talent. I think today was a statement. A road course, battling Kyle (Busch) and Denny (Hamlin) and Martin (Truex Jr.), it was so much fun to see all the fans that think so much of him to show their appreciation. It was exciting.”
In fact, that fan reaction to the win was so loud that Hendrick and Elliott’s first attempt at a chat on the phone after the win was in vain.
“Actually, I couldn't hear him on the front stretch when he originally called,” Elliott said. “I did get a chance to talk to him when we got out of Victory Lane, and he just said that he's proud of me.”
That meant a lot to the driver, as Elliott said Hendrick’s support over the years is the main thing that has gotten him to this point.
“His efforts and his belief in me dates back further than a lot of people's, and I'm sure he caught a lot of slack for helping me through the times that he did, and he has put a lot of faith and confidence in me over the years since I was, I think, 15 years old to try to help me progress and move forward and get me to the point that I'm at today,” he said. “I don't know that I would have made it to the Cup Series when I did without him. I know I probably wouldn't have. So, without him, none of this would be even a factor.”
With win No. 250 in the books, Elliott in Victory Lane for the first time and all four drivers putting together consistently better finishes over the past few weeks, Hendrick is encouraged by what is to come as the regular season winds down and the playoffs approach.
“This is the right time to be closing the gap and building that momentum. I’m so proud of all the folks at Hendrick Motorsports for keeping their head down and working hard,” the owner said.
“I feel really good about the future. I feel good going into the playoffs. It’s going to be super competitive, and I think we know we still have a lot of work to do, but this is going to motivate our people to just step it up again. It’s a great shot in the arm for the whole organization.”