Hendrick Motorsports made it’s debut in 1984 under the banner of All Star Racing. When it made the debut, the team was just a single car operation, running the #5 with Geoff Bodine as the driver. In the years since the team’s inception, it has grown from a one car team to a four car dynasty.
To date, the organization as a whole has amassed 241 victories and 14 championships across NASCAR’s top three series. The team has seen many different drivers in their stables over their twenty-seven year history in the sport.
In Cup, HMS has ten championships among three drivers. Jeff Gordon earned the team’s first championship in 1995. Terry Labonte earned the team’s second in 1996. Gordon followed it up with championships in 1997, 1998 and 2001. Jimmie Johnson, who has been with the team since 2001, leads the organization in championships with five, the first of which came in 2006. Gordon, who has been with HMS since 1992, also leads the organization in wins with eighty-five.
In Trucks, HMS has three championships with one driver. Jack Sprague drove for the organization from 1995 through the end of the 2001 season. He earned his first championship in 1997 and followed it up with championships in 1999 and 2001. After the 2001 season, he left the team and the truck series to concentrate on the Nationwide series.
In Nationwide, HMS has one championship, which came when the series was still known as the Busch series. Former HMS driver Brian Vickers won the championship in the #5, a car previously driven and owned by Rick Hendrick’s late son Ricky. It was Ricky’s only championship as a car owner.
|Kasey Kahne sponsored by Farmers Insurance with #5
(photo from Hendrick Motorsports)
Given the organization’s past, there are many high hopes for this season and beyond. Kasey Kahne joins the fold this year and this may be his first big chance to really contend with his teammates for the championship. After two prior chase berths, he and crew chief Kenny Francis are hungry for their first championship, and with Hendrick equipment they have their best shot to date. Kahne has proven he can win when given good equipment.
|Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., Gordon, Hendrick at 2012 Media Tour
(photo from Northeast Motorsports
furnished by Charlotte Motor Speedway)
Kahne’s hunger may also push his teammates to success as well. For Dale Earnhardt Jr., this may be the push needed to break through and end his winless streak and perhaps win his first championship. For Jeff Gordon with several Sprint Cup trophies as a team co-owner of the #48 and his own drive for a Sprint Cup championship to go with his four Winston trophies, he may be motivated to earn his first Sprint Cup title as a driver. For Jimmie Johnson, breaking his string of five championships last season may have been a bit of a letdown; but this year may drive him and his team back into their championship winning ways.
2012 could easily be another Hendrick year but which team will end up on top come Homestead is anyone’s guess.