KANSAS CITY, MO. (July 7, 2001) - The son, also rises. Ricky Hendrick, son of NASCAR Winston Cup team owner, Rick Hendrick, took the lead on Lap 144 and never looked back in scoring his first-ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win in the...
KANSAS CITY, MO. (July 7, 2001) - The son, also rises. Ricky Hendrick, son of NASCAR Winston Cup team owner, Rick Hendrick, took the lead on Lap 144 and never looked back in scoring his first-ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win in the inaugural O'Reilly 200 at Kansas Speedway. "There is nothing like your fist win," said an elated Hendrick after steering his No. 17 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet Silverado to the victory. " GMAC, Hendrick Motorsports and these guys are the most amazing group. I would be nothing without them. Once we took the lead, I just kept hoping that there wouldn't be another caution. I wanted to keep going. We were blessed today and everything came together. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life."
With the win, the 21-year-old Charlotte, NC native became the youngest driver in the history of the series to visit Victory Lane. Hendrick also became the third driver to steer a Hendrick Motorsports entry to victory joining Terry Labonte and Jack Sprague in that category. The Hendrick organization now owns 22 NCTS victories.
"This is only the beginning," said Hendrick. "Hopefully, It is the first of many more wins. We are halfway through the season and exactly where I wanted to be. We are in the Top-5 in points, we are the Top Rookie and now we have won a race. I truly couldn't ask for anything more in my first season."
Hendrick was fast right off the transporter posting the quickest times in Thursday's optional practice sessions. On Friday, Hendrick rolled to an outside front row starting position with a 33.282 second (162.250 miles per hour) lap on the ultra smooth Kansas 1.5-mile track.
At the drop of the green flag, the leading NCTS Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate showed veteran savvy playing a waiting game instead of charging to the front. The strategy paid off when a caution flag flew near the end of a green flag pit stop cycle on Lap 75. That left Hendrick, and just three other trucks, on the lead lap.
With his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Sprague showing the way, Hendrick stayed in touch with the point over the next 60 laps. When Sprague's engine expired on Lap 139, Hendrick made his move to the front and rolled to the $40,885 victory.
"This win was really special to us for so many reasons," stated Hendrick, who was making just his 18th career NCTS start. "We have a lot of friends and family here today. My dad has the largest Chevrolet Store here in Kansas. He has a bunch of friends here and this was big, real big. I had a good feeling ever since we unloaded. I've just been feeling really good about this whole thing. I love superspeedways and this is a mini-superspeedway. I can't wait to come back to Kansas to race again."
"We've had a lot of Winston Cup and Craftsman Truck Series wins," said the senior Hendrick, who with his wife, Linda, watched the race from the pit area. "Wins are nice, but when you see you son do it it's really something special. I remember his first Legends win and his first Late Model win. I think the first one I was sick and couldn't be at the track so I had to listen to it on the radio. When I think about Ricky being young and sitting in my lap and now he's driving the car and winning a race....he's kind of like the mascot on a football team who grew up to be the quarterback. To see him drive is really special."
The victory also kept Hendrick in the thick of the Craftsman Truck Series season championship chase. Still fifth in the standings, Hendrick is just 106 points out of first place.
"I'll tell you what happened to Team GMAC this season," said Hendrick. "Dennis Connor (Sprague's crew chief) and Lance McGrew (Hendrick's crew chief) are exactly what happened. They brought this team together. I can't say enough about how tirelessly these guys work to be the very best at everything we do. I am so proud to be a part of this team."
Hendrick and his No. 17 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet Silverado team will now try to make it two wins in a row when they take the green flag in the Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway, Saturday, July 14. The 13th of 24 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events this season will be telecast live on ESPN and broadcast by MRN Radio at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.