CONCORD, N.C. - As Hendrick Motorsports celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2024, no track has played a more significant role in the organization's story than Martinsville Speedway. The Rick Hendrick-owned team's history is intertwined with the ups and downs it has experienced at the 0.526-mile venue.

With 28 NASCAR Cup Series victories at Martinsville, Hendrick Motorsports holds the record for the most wins by a team at a single track. Nine drivers have contributed to the total: Jeff Gordon (nine wins), Jimmie Johnson (nine), Darrell Waltrip (four), Geoff Bodine, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson. The 10,614 laps led by Hendrick Motorsports at Martinsville are the most by a team at one track.

RELATED: Look back at every Hendrick Motorsports win at Martinsville

Hendrick, who founded the team as All-Star Racing in 1984, was raised just two hours down the road on a tobacco farm in Palmer Springs, Virginia. Having attended Martinsville races as a young fan of the sport, he has a unique appreciation for the venue's history and the distinctive grandfather clock trophies bestowed on its winners. 

"Having those 28 wins, the clocks, and what it means to the organization, we want to see it go on far into the future," Hendrick said. "I feel good about our chances every time we return to Martinsville. It has been a legacy track for us. I grew up not far from there, so it's a special place."

The first of those victories came at a critical juncture for Hendrick Motorsports. Following a dismal 35th-place finish at Darlington Raceway in the seventh race of the team's inaugural season, Hendrick told Bodine and crew chief Harry Hyde he would have to shut the doors due to lack of sponsorship. However, Hyde convinced the car owner to enter one more event – and did it ever pay off. Drawing on his success at Martinsville in the modified and late model ranks, Bodine led the final 49 laps to secure the team's first win. 

RELATED: Bodine, Hendrick look back at the win that started it all

"That was a pivotal race," recalled Hendrick, who attended a church retreat that day and was not at the track. "Harry said, 'Hey, Geoff is good at Martinsville. Let's go there and try.' We won and then were able to get a sponsor. You think back on those moments in time. It was so close to there not being a Hendrick Motorsports."

Although the victory was unlikely, it set the organization on a path to ultimately become the winningest team in NASCAR Cup Series history. Hendrick Motorsports assumed the mantle from the legendary Petty Enterprises in 2021 and has accumulated 14 championships and more than 300 points-paying wins in the premier series, both of which are all-time records. 

RELATED: Key numbers to know for Hendrick Motorsports in the Cup Series

Nearly 40 years from the date of that first win, all four Hendrick Motorsports cars will carry special red paint schemes on Sunday to commemorate the team's ruby anniversary. Hendrick will be the event's honorary pace car driver, while Gordon and Bodine will be the co-grand marshals. Martinsville falls as the season's eighth race – just like in 1984.

"When I look back, I am in awe," Bodine said. "When I shook hands with Rick Hendrick, I had no idea I was shaking hands with a guy who would be in charge of winning 300-plus Cup races. His legacy is going to be hard for anyone to match."

PHOTOS: See every angle of the special Martinsville paint schemes

Of course, Hendrick Motorsports' Martinsville story cannot be told without Gordon and Johnson, two of the best to drive a stock car. A mastery of this track, where they combined for 18 wins and an astounding 6,711 laps led, was one of the hallmarks of their respective Hall of Fame careers. 

Gordon's first Martinsville victory came in 1996, the season after he won the first of his four championships. Undefeated there in 2003 and 2005 – he joined the great Richard Petty as the only drivers with multiple season sweeps at the paperclip-shaped track. 

One of Gordon's most memorable wins came in 2015 during his last full-time season. With sunlight fading quickly, he took his 93rd and final checkered flag in the Cup Series to lock into that year's Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It is an indelible moment for the NASCAR Hall of Famer, who is now vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports. 

RELATED: Gordon calls last Martinsville win 'greatest moment of racing career'

"Martinsville has always been special," Gordon said. "Every time we went there, we had a shot at winning. I have a lot of special memories, but I don't think anything will ever top that final race win for me with Alan (Gustafson) as the crew chief. My wife and my kids ran down that front straightaway and gave me that big hug. Sharing it with them and then going to Homestead to battle for the championship in my final year. I don't know how you top that."

Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus won a Martinsville race in six of their seven championship seasons. Between 2006 and 2009, they also won five races there in a six-race span. For all of their success, it took some time for everything to gel at Martinsville. 

"Once it clicked for Jimmie, he was able to express to us what he needed in the car and then we were able to attack that," said Knaus, now the team's vice president of competition. "We were able to go to Martinsville and have a good time. Even through all the different types of cars we raced with and won with there, we changed our setups to focus on what Jimmie wanted."

Over the most recent seven races at Martinsville, each driver in the current Hendrick Motorsports lineup has recorded a win. It is the only track where all four – Bowman, Byron, Elliott and Larson – have a victory in the Cup Series.

RELATED: See where each of the drivers rank in team wins

Knaus' former engineer, Cliff Daniels, guided Larson to victory last spring event and the defending race winner now has three straight top-six finishes here. Elliott's 2020 win helped propel him to a Cup Series championship, while his 1,040 laps led are a personal best at any track. 

Byron's four top-five finishes at Martinsville are tied for his most anywhere and the 212 laps he led in his spring 2022 victory stand as his most in a Cup event. In 2021, Bowman collected his grandfather clock after a memorable finish that capped off a career-best four-win season. 

On Sunday, the four teams of Hendrick Motorsports will seek to add another chapter to a story that began 40 years ago at Martinsville. After four decades of success here, victory lane would be a fitting place for an anniversary celebration.