TEAM OWNER RICK HENDRICK SHEDS LIGHT ON CHASE FOR THE NEXTEL CUP VICKERS INCIDENT AND THREE HENDRICK CARS COMPETING HIGHLIGHT ENTURINI'S V'REAL DEAL' SUBJECTS on NASCAR RACEDAY Car owner Rick Hendrick has three cars (Jimmie Johnson, Jeff ...
TEAM OWNER RICK HENDRICK SHEDS LIGHT ON CHASE FOR THE NEXTEL CUP
VICKERS INCIDENT AND THREE HENDRICK CARS COMPETING HIGHLIGHT ENTURINI'S V'REAL DEAL' SUBJECTS on NASCAR RACEDAY
Car owner Rick Hendrick has three cars (Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon & Kyle Busch) in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series championship. NASCAR RaceDay insider Wendy Venturini covered many topics with Hendrick, including the Brian Vickers incident with teammate Jimmie Johnson at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and what he thinks about this year's title run.
The following are the highlights from that interview.
Venturini: What are your thoughts on what happened at Talladega between Brian Vickers and Jimmie Johnson?
Hendrick: You've got mixed emotions. I was happy for GMAC, Brian and that team has worked awfully hard. Then you have Jimmie there, who was poised to pick up a lot of points and close the gap. It's going to happen. I came out here on Monday (Oct. 9) and met with all of the teams. But this is part of it. If you have cars running this good, it's going to happen. Brian didn't mean to do it and I'm real proud of this organization and they realize it was just one of those things that's going to happen at a track like that. Brian was trying to help him and he was a foot too soon.
Venturini: How do you choose a side? Or do you stay neutral?
Hendrick: I do stay neutral, but it's like having two kids in a ballgame. One of them is batting and one of them is pitching. One's going to get a strikeout, but one's going to strikeout. It's a tough business, but at the end of the day, they have to beat each other.
Venturini: Is there any chance, with all of the fallout with Brian Vickers, that you would replace him before season's end?
Hendrick: No. He's going to finish the season in the car. If Ganassi wanted to run (Juan Pablo) Montoya and Casey (Mears) was available -- and Red Bull is running a car and they wanted Brian -- we could probably work something out. But he's like part of the family and I see Brian finishing the season out and, hopefully, he can win another race and move that team on up in the points.
Venturini: What are your thoughts on your chances of still winning a championship?
Hendrick: I look back at the first four races and look at what's happened and the bad luck that we've had, as well as some of the other teams. I then look at some of the tracks - and we've been good with a good record -- so, I think we're in good shape and I feel good about it. I'd rather be 100 points ahead than 100 points behind, but we haven't given up by any stretch.
Venturini: What's been the highlight of the year for you?
Hendrick: Daytona's always a big race (Jimmie Johnson) and the Brickyard is a special race (Johnson). Because of my dad (Father, Joe Hendrick) and (son) Ricky (Hendrick), it's the 25 car and seeing them win is good. I wanted to see Brian win a race before he left. But I think (the best) has been having three cars qualify for 'The Chase.' Hats off to Jack Roush for last year, he had five cars in The Chase. That's a tough deal to pull off. I'll take this year. As competitive as we are and if we can stay this competitive, we'll win championships.
Venturini: What would make this a successful year for Hendrick Motorsports? The fact three guys are in The Chase? Or winning a championship and nothing less?
Hendrick: It's been a great year. No matter how we end up. It's not all or none. We'd love to win a championship because that's what it's all about, but we wanted to have four cars in The Chase. We have three. Everybody's won a race this year, so I'm happy with the year, but the Cup's going to mean that we won the ultimate prize.
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