NASCAR Cup Series
William Byron Advances to Round of 8 With Late Charge to Win at Texas
Sep 24, 2023
Through the annals of NASCAR Cup Series history, there is no question that Hendrick Motorsports stands above the rest.
This journey, which began in 1984, has resulted in the longest-sustained run of dominance that any team has ever seen in the highest level of motorsport in the United States. The legend of HMS added an additional chapter Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
When William Byron crossed the stripe to score his impressive sixth win of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season in the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400, it marked an unfathomable achievement for the Hendrick Motorsports organization. 300 NASCAR Cup Series wins.
Sure, Rick Hendrick dreamed of building an impressive race team when he formed what is now Hendrick Motorsports in 1984. But there is no chance he envisioned 300 NASCAR Cup Series wins. In fact, the team nearly closed its doors before it ever reached victory No. 1.
When he started the All-Star Racing team, Hendrick hired veteran crew chief Harry Hyde to lead the program, and he added Modified star Geoff Bodine as his driver. And to be honest, the team came out of the gates with some solid finishes.
Bodine, and the No. 5 team, would record finishes of eighth, ninth, and sixth at Daytona, Richmond, and Rockingham to begin the 1984 season. However, after Richmond, good results didn't come as easy for the Hendrick-owned team.
And after a crash at Darlington Raceway in April, Hendrick was at a fork in the road. The team was sinking, and Hendrick was drowning in the costs that it took to run the organization. Hendrick seriously debated closing the doors.
With their backs against the wall, the bank account nearly at zero, and Hendrick at church with his wife searching for answers, Bodine and the No. 5 team led 55 laps (the first laps led in the team's history) and pulled through with a massive victory at Martinsville Speedway.
The fledgling organization was saved. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward 39 years, and Hendrick Motorsports, which once hoped for one measly win, now has 300 NASCAR Cup Series victory trophies hanging around their Concord, North Carolina campus.
Additionally, the race team has collected 14 NASCAR Cup Series championships -- another all-time best.
When you look at the drivers, who have picked up wins in Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets, you see an eclectic list of talent.
Jeff Gordon, of course, leads them all with 93 victories.
Jimmie Johnson (83), Chase Elliott (18), Kyle Larson (16), Terry Labonte (12), William Byron (10), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9), Tim Richmond (9), Darrell Waltrip (9), Geoff Bodine (7), Alex Bowman (7), Kasey Kahne (6), Mark Martin (5), Kyle Busch (4), Ricky Rudd (4), Ken Schrader (4), Casey Mears (1), Jerry Nadeau (1), Joe Nemechek (1), and Brian Vickers (1) have all contributed to the astonishing 300 win total.
But while Hendrick Motorsports has had some of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport behind the wheel of its cars over the years, the path to 300 has been a complete team effort.
The late Randy Dorton laid a foundation of engine-building excellence, which helped boost the Hendrick Motorsports organization from a team hoping to contend to becoming one that started winning championships.
The legacy of Dorton is still present at Hendrick Motorsports, as the team holds an annual engine-building competition at its competition in Dorton's honor.
Powerful engines aren't anything without talented crew chiefs, though. And Hendrick Motorsports has had some of the brightest minds in NASCAR history atop the box for its teams.
Whether it be all-time legends like Harry Hyde, Chad Knaus, and Ray Evernham, current crew chiefs Alan Gustafson, Cliff Daniels, Rudy Fugle, or any of the names in between, you have a true who's-who list of crew chiefs that have served for Hendrick Motorsports.
And while Hendrick started his team with the hire of a veteran crew chief, the bulk of the crew chiefs for HMS have been homegrown in the years since. A true testament to the leadership of the race team.
Oh, and you can't forget the pit crews, the most famed being the iconic rainbow warriors. Lightning-fast pit stops have been a hallmark for HMS since its inception, in fact, Kyle Larson took home the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series championship thanks in part to a quicker-than-quick final pit stop of the race.
Rick Hendrick had a vision for Hendrick Motorsports, and while the vision didn't look like a clear picture early on, he never gave up, and in the end, he was rewarded with 300 NASCAR Cup Series wins. An incredible accomplishment, and one that will be hard for any other team to ever top. Oh, and the team isn't done yet.
Photo Credit: Tim Parks, HHP for Chevy Racing