Gordon Gives Hendrick Motorsports 100th Winston Cup Victory
Bu Thomas Chemris
Jeff Gordon's dominant performance at the Kmart 400 at Michigan International Speedway solidified the team's momentum heading towards the seasons midway point.
Gordon's victory, allowed him to take the lead in the series points battle, giving him a 26 point margin over 1999 Champion Dale Jarrett.
It also broke the three-way tie on the all time win lists seventh position that was previously shared by Gordon, Lee Petty and Rusty Wallace.
But the most significant achievement of this win is that it notes the milestone of the 100th win for Hendrick Motor Sports.
Team owner Rick Hendrick, broke into Winston Cup in 1984 with driver Geoffrey Bodine, who that year brought home the first of the 100 victories at Martinsville Speedway.
During the past 17 and one-half seasons Hendrick has fielded 1409 entries in 531 races.
Twenty-seven different drivers have been in his employee, eight of which have achieved wins.
Winning drivers include Geoff Bodine (7), Tim Richmond (9), Darrell Walltrip (9), Kenny Schrader (4), Ricky Rudd (4), Jeff Gordon (55), Terry Labonte (11), and Jerry Nadeau (1)
"It seems like when I got my first win in the 600 hundred, we have just put the throttle down and have never really looked back". " If it was not for the support and confidence given to me by Rick Hendrick, I don't think I'd be where I am today. "A lot of people have come and gone in this organization, But Rick and I have maintained a great relationship on and off the track", notes Gordon, who has raced every Winston Cup Race of his career with Hendrick.
Hendrick can be considered an innovator in the sport. Arguably, he was one of the first to see the value of fielding multi-car teams. What began as an oddity, has now become the industry standard.
However successful, Hendricks career has not been a smooth ride.
In 1996 he was indicted on federal charges of money laundering involving allegations of influence peddling with Honda Corporation stemming from his network of over 60-car dealership in the South East.
Hendrick was eventually sentenced to three years probation, one year of which, (1998), he was confined to his home in Charlotte, and was prohibited from having involvement in either his auto dealerships or his race teams. (Hendrick was granted a Presidential pardon in 1/01)
Prior to the sentencing, Rick was diagnosed with a form of Leukemia, and began treatments working toward a successful remission of the disease.
The support Hendrick received from his employees, competitors, and race fans was evidenced by the support of several cancer related charities the team promotes.
During the teams tribulations and triumphs, Hendrick motorsports has accumulated 100 victories, and four Winston Cup Championships.
What began as a small shop, with legendary Crew Chief Harry Hyde, has grown into one of the sports biggest powerhouses that are housed at a complex of nearly 400,000 square feet of shop space on 62 acres.
Winning has become a consistent part of the Hendrick organization.
Over the years, as much as the sport has changed, one thing has remained consistent,
A Hendrick driver is once again on the top of the point's chart, looking to find at victory.
Only this time it will be for win 101.