MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Hendrick Motorsports is good.
The NASCAR team is 219 wins good. Eleven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships good. Fourteen overall NASCAR national series owner championships good.
And their success has lasted three decades – with winning roots extending all the way to the site of this weekend’s race, at Martinsville Speedway.
In 2014, Hendrick Motorsports is celebrating its 30th anniversary in NASCAR – and this weekend, specifically, its first win in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
On April 29, 1984 at Martinsville, Geoffrey Bodine took his No. 5 Chevrolet to victory lane for a single-car operation then known as All-Star Racing.
A year later, the team changed its name to Hendrick Motorsports. Three decades later, that tiny operation has evolved into a four-car juggernaut that has three of its drivers in the current top six in points.
No other major American professional sports organization has more championships than Hendrick Motorsports since 1984. In that time, the Los Angeles Lakers have won eight NBA championships and the Chicago Bulls have recorded six. Both the New York Yankees and Edmonton Oilers have tallied five titles apiece since ‘84.
This weekend, in the STP 500 at Martinsville, Hendrick Motorsports has an outstanding chance to add a bookend win to its 30-plus years in the sport.
Two of its drivers – Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson – sit atop the active wins list at Martinsville, with eight apiece. Johnson won last year’s spring Martinsville race, and Gordon won the fall race at the shortest race track in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
They are the undisputed current “Kings of Martinsville” (although Denny Hamlin has scrapped his way into that discussion).
In 24 starts, Johnson has finished outside the top 10 only three times. He has won two of the last three races – and tallied triple-digit laps led figures in each of the last four.
Gordon has finished in the top 10 in 20 of the last 22 races at Martinsville, and finished third and first in last year’s two races.
Hendrick’s other two drivers – Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. – likewise have enjoyed success at the Virginia short track. Kahne – who drives the No. 5 that Hendrick first took to victory lane – has finished in the top five in two of the last three Martinsville races.