Members of the Hendrick Motorsports organization including Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers, Terry Labonte, Kyle Busch and their crew chiefs joined NASCAR driver Tony Stewart for a press conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway to address...
Members of the Hendrick Motorsports organization including Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers, Terry Labonte, Kyle Busch and their crew chiefs joined NASCAR driver Tony Stewart for a press conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway to address the plane crash that killed 10 people Sunday in Martinsville, Virginia. The mood was somber as they spoke to the media in cracked voices trying to shelter their emotions.
Hendrick drivers had read an announcement before they took the stage that the media take this opportunity to ask questions about the plane crash and then refrain from asking about the crash for the rest of the weekend.
Brian Vickers started the conference with a prepared statement; he asked that individual questions not be addressed to him. Ricky Hendrick was not only a close personal friend of Vickers; he was his mentor, Co-car owner and spotter.
"Last Sunday was a sad day for a lot of people," said Vickers. "I lost a dear friend. They will all be deeply missed for a long time until we get to see them again."
As the Hendrick family tried to navigate difficult questions, the sentiment was clear, that they intend to approach this weekend with the winning determination Rick Hendrick has instilled in them.
"As far as we are concerned we have a job to do this weekend," said Gordon. "We have a legacy to keep going."
Teammate Johnson reiterated, "The truth of the matter is we are at the race track and we have to get to work. That doesn't mean we aren't still grieving."
Johnson and Gordon also spoke of how they hope they can turn tragedy into triumph by bringing the NEXTEL Cup series championship trophy home to Hendrick this season.
"I've never been more inspired and driven in my life," said four-time Cup series champion Gordon. "This is an important weekend for a lot of reasons. I can't think of anything that would drive us more than this loss."
Currently, Gordon has the best chance of brining that goal to fruition. He sits second in rankings 96 points behind leader Kurt Busch. Johnson trails by 207 markers in fourth.
The Hendrick Family thanks fans and the NASCAR family for their well wishes and support and asked that if people wanted to do something special to acknowledge them during this terrible time, that they make donations to the Bone Marrow Foundation.
The Marrow Foundation
400 Seventh Street, NW, Suite 206
Washington, DC 20004