getting the crew chiefs to buy in. And the
way Hendrick does it is beautiful in its
simplicity: crew chiefs can come up with
their own innovations and work in their
own areas, but each of four team leaders
has to show his work to the others.
“That’s probably the biggest thing that
we’ve got here,” says Knaus. “The teams
do retain a lot of freedom to be inventive,
Still, balancing four hugely competitive
teams is an ongoing challenge.
“It’s the toughest part of my job,” says
Duchardt. “Six days a week, they have to
buy into, ‘We’re going to try to make each
other better.’ And on the seventh day,
‘We’re going to try to beat each other.’”
And it’s on Hendrick to set the tone,
something he is masterful at. “It’s like
having four children and one’s pitching
against the other one in the state
championship,” he says. “You have to give
’em the tools and let it all work its way out.”
And when the team struggles, as it did
last summer, Hendrick isn’t afraid to push
his guys hard. Earnhardt saw it first hand.
“Last year, I really got to see for the first
time Rick come in there and really influence
us and push us and drive us in the summer
months to get better,” he says. “I was like,
‘How do we get better? Everybody’s
working hard.’ But everybody put in the
grind and, by the Chase, our speed was
back and we were competitive again.”
But no one’s under any illusion that HMS
has totally mastered what it does, because
there’s always room to improve.
“It’s been quite a journey,” says Wall.
“It’s a journey we’re still on. I don’t think
we’ve perfected it by any stretch.”
And judging by the results so far,
they’ve done a pretty damned good job
of doing just that.
Of Rick Hendrick’s
11 NASCAR Sprint
Cup titles, the
six – a 2006-’ 10
streak, plus 2013.
Four-time Sprint Cup champion
Jeff Gordon, who retired at the
end of 2015, was always going
to be a tough act to follow in the
No. 24 Chevy. But HMS – and
Gordon himself – believe they’ve
found a worthy replacement in
20-year-old Chase Elliott, son
of 1988 NASCAR champ Bill.
HENDRICK’S HIT RATE
With four cars the norm since
2002, it’s easy to see how Rick
Hendrick had racked up 3,599
total starts and 242 wins in
Sprint Cup (up to Kansas
Speedway, 2016) as an owner
since 1984. What is amazing is
the hit rate for wins and poles
based on actual races entered
– a massive 22. 7 and 19. 4
* Up to and including 2015. Includes ’ 84, when team was named All-Star Racing.
** NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races with at least one car entered by All-Star
Racing or Hendrick Motorsports. Hit rates are up to and including Kansas Speedway,
May 7, 2016. Does not include non-points events or Daytona 500 qualifiers.
“It’s like having four
children and one’s pitching
against the other in the