Hendrick joining Gordon in Busch operation By Dave Rodman
DENVER, N.C., (Jan. 4, 2000) NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick and his star driver Jeff Gordon have collaborated in a joint venture to buy out Ray Evernham's portion of what was formerly the Gordon-Evernham Motorsports NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division team, a spokesman for the team said. The team's Chevrolet Monte Carlos will continue to carry the No. 24 and will alternate Pepsi sponsorship with a to-be-determined backer depending on whether Gordon, who is also a part owner of his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolets or the owner's son Ricky Hendrick is driving.
The Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Busch Series team, which moved from its former Concord, N.C., location to a new 15,000-square-foot facility here in early December, will tentatively field a car in 20 events in the NASCAR Busch Series - 10 more than last season.
Gordon formed the team this season in conjunction with Evernham, his former crew chief at Hendrick Motorsports and Gordon's wife Brooke. After Evernham left Hendrick Motorsports in the fall as he prepared to become a team owner for Dodge's return to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, his involvement with that manufacturer was seen as a conflict with the Chevrolet NBS team by Gordon, who initiated the buyout talks.
Ricky Hendrick, who drove in two NBS events in 1999, is slated to drive the car in 15 NBS events while Gordon will run the car in five races. Hendrick also tentatively plans to run up to five races in the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring. He will make his NASCAR 2000 debut at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham on Feb. 26. His Busch North schedule has yet to be determined.
Gordon made six starts in 1999 in his first forays into the NASCAR Busch Series since 1992. He scored a victory at Phoenix International Raceway in the Outback Steakhouse 200 and had four top-5 finishes.
While the younger Hendrick would be eligible for a Raybestos Rookie of the Year campaign, in which a driver's best 16 results are used to determine the titlist in the NASCAR Busch Series, it has not been determined whether or not he will contest that award, Hendrick spokesman Dan Lohwasser said.
The team already has six members working in the new shop under the direction of team manager Michael Landis and crew chief Patrick Donahue. They are searching for two additional crewmembers and Hendrick Motorsports will continue the hiring process until the new facility is fully staffed.
Fans and visitors are invited to stop by and take a tour at the shop, located just off U.S. 16 in the Denver Industrial Park