CONCORD, N.C. - Being named the winner of the 2023 Papa Joe Hendrick Award of Excellence was an honor that Linda Hendrick will not soon forget. 

Hendrick is the wife of team owner Rick Hendrick and has been right by his side since before Hendrick Motorsports began competing in the NASCAR Cup Series in 1984. At Tuesday's company-wide gathering to kick off the 2024 season, the honor of the Papa Joe Hendrick Award of Excellence was given to her.

"Looking out at this crowd, I never thought I'd be the one that deserves this," Hendrick said after receiving the honor. "I have so much respect for each one of you. I value each one of you. I pray for each one of you and your families every single day." 

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The Papa Joe Hendrick Award of Excellence was started in 1995 and is named after the team owner’s father. Hendrick Motorsports employees vote on the honor and it recognizes an employee (or employees) for their hard work and dedication to the company. Recipients are noted for their demonstrated commitment to teamwork, servant leadership, passion and enthusiasm, continuous improvement, integrity and accountability.

This carries extra significance to Hendrick as Papa Joe was her father-in-law. Winning an award that demonstrates his character is not something she takes lightly. 

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"This award is especially important to me because Papa Joe was my father-in-law. I not only loved him so much but I respected him so much. He has always been the example of who I thought was a successful person in life," Hendrick said. "He engulfed every character of a person that I would believe is a successful person. Not by money, not by fame, but as a human being. That's true success. So this means a lot to me that I would be given this award and I'm deeply touched by it. I can't thank you enough."