When Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag at Darlington last Saturday, team owner Rick Hendrick was elated.
More than just any other victory it was Hendrick Motorsports 200th win on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup circuit.
That 200th victory reminded Hendrick of his first victory as a car owner in Martinsville, VA., by driver Geoff Bodine in April, 1984.
At the time the team was a start up called All-Star racing. And it was on the brink of closing for finance until Bodine’s win
You could say that the HMS NASCAR dynasty started in Martinsville.
Ironically, Martinsville is also the site of the 2004 plane crash which claimed ten Hendrick family members and employees.
As if to ease some of the pain of remembering that tragic date Hendrick was hoping that the teams 200th win would come there, but, it didn’t happy in story book fashion. It was a bitter pill when none of his four teams finally closed the deal.
“I would say that the race in Martinsville will have to go down as the one that's going to take a long time for me to get over.
When you're running one, two, three and you've got three laps to go, or two laps to go, and you've got a straight way on everybody and you just kind of are cruising and then somebody stops on the track and then you've got to restart and you have a big wreck that takes out everybody.
I think that one crushed me more than any one ever has, because I wanted to win at Martinsville, and that would have been a great place for the 200th win, where the accident happened. I have a lot of family there and had relatives on the plane. That one crushed me, and I don't think I'll ever get over that one,” Hendrick said.
After the Saturday night’s race Johnson present Hendrick with a helmet signed by all the living drivers or family member of the drivers who won races for HMS.
Hendrick, a humble man who doesn’t show big emotion, was thrilled.
“That was probably one of the coolest things I've ever seen, because all of the drivers who had won races had signed it. And even Tim Richmond's sister signed for him. That's a treasure; to have a piece like that with the pictures and their signatures on it, because, you know, I look back, till the day I die at how fortunate we were and I am to be a part of this deal and part of NASCAR and to win this many races,” said Hendrick.
He added “the coolest thing about it all is being able to meet guys like Tim Richmond and Geoff Bodine and Darrell (Waltrip) and Terry (Labonte) and Kyle (Busch) and all of the guys that have been there that won races. Still see them in the garage, a lot of them. Some of them don't race anymore. But it's really an honor to have those guys be excited about the 200 and the relationship I have with all of them, so the helmet has all of that.”