NASCAR Hall of Famer Rick Hendrick is best known for being the owner of Hendrick Motorsports, which is on the cusp of becoming the all-time winningest team in Cup Series history. Since the creation of the team in 1984, Hendrick has had some of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history behind the wheel of his vehicles, most notably Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, who won 176 Cup Series races between them and combined to win 11 points championships for HMS. In total, Hendrick’s drivers have won 268 races in the Cup Series, currently tied for the most in history with Richard Petty Enterprises. Across the Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Truck Series, nearly 5,000 starts have been made by Hendrick Motorsports drivers, which is quite an accomplishment in itself.
But did you know four of those starts were by Rick Hendrick himself?
Rick Hendrick competed in two NASCAR Cup Series races
The 1987 NASCAR Cup Series season was the fourth for Hendrick Motorsports and the first in which the team fielded three full-time cars. However, Hendrick didn’t have three full-time drivers that year as Tim Richmond, who’d won seven races and finished third in the points standings in 1986, started only eight races for HMS due to health issues stemming from his battle with AIDS. Richmond’s final race of the ’87 season came at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, after which the No. 25 Folgers Coffee didn’t compete in the Cup Series again for nearly three months.
But on November 8, 1987, Rick Hendrick himself got behind the wheel of the No. 25 to run the Winston Western 500 at Riverside International Raceway in Riverside, California, which would turn out to be the final fall race at the track. 42 drivers entered the 119-lap race and Hendrick began his Cup Series debut in the 21st position. He was never in contention but ran a decent-enough race and finished in 33rd after transmission troubles ended his day after 75 laps. While Hendrick himself may not have finished the race, his other two cars did as Benny Parsons finished second in the No. 35 car while Geoffrey Bodine finished 10th in the No. 5.
The following July, Hendrick drove the No. 18 car for the summer race at Riverside, the Budweiser 400, and had a much better showing. After starting the day in the 13th position, he finished the 95-lap race in 15th, the best showing of any Hendrick Motorsports car that afternoon. Ken Schrader finished 20th in the No. 25, Darrell Waltrip finished 28th in the No. 17, and Bodine finished 34th in the No. 5.
Hendrick competed in one race each in the Busch Series and the Truck Series
Just over three months before his debut in the Cup Series at Riverside, Hendrick competed in the Busch Series Amoco 300 on August 2, 1987, on the road course at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Driving the No. 15 Levi Garrett car, Hendrick started in the sixth position but finished 24th of 33 drivers in the 74-lap race as a clutch issue ended his day 53 laps in.
In 1995, the inaugural season for what’s now known as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Hendrick ran the July 29 race, the Heartland Tailgate 175, at the Heartland Park Topeka road course and finished 23rd of 33 drivers. Driving the No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet, he finished 45 of 60 laps as his race ended early due to transmission trouble.
He also ran one race each in the NASCAR Southwest Series and
In addition to his four starts in the three main NASCAR series, Hendrick also ran one race in what was then known as the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour, the now-defunct late-model series. The race took place the day before his 1988 Cup Series appearance at Riverside and he finished eighth in the 42-car field.
Hendrick also made one start in the ARCA SuperCar Series, finishing 23rd in the No. 15 Tide car at the 1991 Wendy’s Big Classic 100 at Heartland Park Topeka.
Stats courtesy of Racing Reference