CONCORD, N.C. – This Sunday, the green flag will wave on the event that race fans, drivers, crew chiefs and teams have been waiting for since last November: the Daytona 500.
The four Hendrick Motorsports teams have been hard at work during the offseason, preparing for this “Super Bowl” of sorts for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to kick off the 2016 season. Chase Elliott will lead his teammates to the start, having won the Daytona 500 pole award in qualifying this past Sunday.
Before the racing begins, take a look at three memorable moments for Hendrick Motorsports at the Daytona 500.
Feb. 19, 1989: The last year of the ‘80s brought six wins for Darrell Waltrip in what would be his last full season with Hendrick Motorsports. Throughout his 29-year career, Waltrip amassed 84 wins but only one of them was a Daytona 500 victory. As the outside pole-sitter, Waltrip got a great start and was scored the leader of the first 10 laps of the event. He would lose the lead and gain it back several times throughout the 200-lap race before once again driving to the front for the final four laps to take his solitary Great American Race checkered flag.
Feb. 20, 2005: Jeff Gordon’s final Daytona 500 victory was a memorable one. In the 2005 season opener, Gordon rolled off the grid in 15th and first took the lead on Lap 64, leading for 23 laps before succumbing to pressure from behind. It wasn’t until Lap 198 that he would once again battle his way to the front to lead the remaining laps to victory. This win marked his fourth career Daytona win.
Feb. 19, 2006: In a race that saw all of his teammates (Gordon, Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers) hold the lead at some point, Jimmie Johnson led the remaining 17 laps of the Great American Race to claim his first Daytona 500 win in his then six-year career. Johnson took the lead three times throughout the 203-lap event, leading a total of 24 laps before overcoming his teammate, Vickers, to assume the No. 1 position for the final time and taking the checkered flag under caution.