Young Hendrick eager for opportunity By Shawn A. Akers CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 2, 1998) Talk about pressure. Your last name's Hendrick, and your first assignment in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division will be in a car fielded by ...
Young Hendrick eager for opportunity By Shawn A. Akers
CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 2, 1998) Talk about pressure. Your last name's Hendrick, and your first assignment in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division will be in a car fielded by Gordon-Evernham Motorsports.
That's what 18-year-old Ricky Hendrick, son of Rick Hendrick, will be faced with next year. At a press conference held at the newly-formed NASCAR Busch Series team's facility in Concord, N.C., it was announced that Ricky Hendrick will drive a limited schedule in the No. 24 Pepsi Chevrolet, owned by Ray Evernham and Brooke Gordon, the wife of two-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon.
The young Hendrick couldn't imagine a better opportunity for him to start his climb to the top of the NASCAR ladder.
"This is definitely a dream come true for me," Hendrick said. "I take a look at this Busch car, and I never imagined that a year after I got into Late Model Stock, I'd be ready for this. It's a great challenge for me, and to get my start with Jeff and Ray is just unbelievable. I just hope I can represent them well and Pepsi well.
"Having Jeff Gordon for a teammate, I just keep thinking about that and how awesome that is. These guys are the best in the business, and it was the best opportunity I could ever possibly get into. There's a little bit more pressure working with Jeff and Ray than maybe someone else because if we're not doing well in a race, more often than not it will be the driver's fault because you know we're going to have great cars. There's a bit more pressure there, but it won't be all that bad."
Hendrick spent the past season racing in the Late Model Division at Concord Motorsport Park, where he fashioned a solid campaign. With "Papa" Joe Hendrick, Rick Hendrick's father, as his team owner and crew chief, Ricky Hendrick won three races and three poles and posted 13 top-five finishes in 28 races this season.
"He has performed really well on the track and has done a great job," the elder Hendrick said of his grandson's performance at Concord Motorsport Park. "He had a good crew, a good crew chief and a good automobile. That's the main thing, and he really did his job. I think he's quite ready for this opportunity."
"We wanted to give Ricky a chance like his dad has given us a chance to make it in this sport," Evernham said. "We're very high on him. He's got a lot of talent, and he's shown that this past season in the Late Model Division at Concord. We believe in him and we believe this is going to be a great launch for his racing career."
Gordon himself will drive in five races next season in the No. 24 Pepsi/Frito-Lay Chevrolet, mainly on superspeedways. Ricky Hendrick will drive anywhere from five to seven races next season in the No. 24 Chevrolet. Evernham said that Hendrick's races will probably come on short tracks such as Richmond International Raceway, South Boston Speedway, and Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Source: NASCAR Online