Since he first landed in Sprint Cup eight years ago, almost everyone has predicted stardom for Kasey Kahne. But the quiet guy from the Pacific Northwest always has skirted on the edges of being a true championship player, just a little below the elite level of the sport. Kahne has gotten a bit of a pass because he's never had the best equipment or raced for a top team. Those days are over. Kahne's in the big-boy car now with one of the best organizations in all of motorsports. No excuses. At age 31, it's time to step up. "I'm in a really solid situation, and I have to take advantage of it," Kahne said. "We'll see how high we can rise." The sky's the limit in the #5 for Hendrick Motorsports. It helps that Kahne comes to Hendrick with Kenny Francis on the pit box, the man who has been his crew chief for years.
Dale Earnhardt Jr is the son of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt and the grandson of dirt track ace Ralph Earnhardt. Suffice to say, racing is his blood. No driver has ever entered the sport with more media attention than Earnhardt Jr. During his career, Earnhardt, Jr. has competed successfully in a number of racing classes and events, is a two-time Busch Series champion (one of 6 drivers to win back-to-back championships), and was the winner of the 2004 Daytona 500. He made his Cup series debut in 1999 driving for his late father's company. Earnhardt Jr would go on to win 17 races for Dale Earnhardt Inc. during the seven year period from 2000-2006. Perhaps his most memorable victory came at Daytona in July 2001 in the first race at the track since his father was killed. In June 2007, he signed a contract with Hendrick Motorsports to drive the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet.
Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson stepped into the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet for the 2002 season and had a memorable rookie season, thus setting the stage for early dominance in his career. The California native scored his first career win at California Speedway and followed that up by sweeping both races at Dover International Speedway. He finished fifth in the points standings and just missed winning rookie of the year. In 2003, Johnson improved in his sophomore season with a sweep of Charlotte Speedweeks in May and a second place finish in the points standings-- just 90 points behind the champion. Johnson began his stock car career in the American Speed Association and moved east to run Busch Grand National races in the late 90's. At Michigan Speedway in the summer of 2000, Johnson went over to ask Jeff Gordon a question. The then 23-year-old driver was fielding offers from a number of Nextel Cup teams at the time and wanted some advice on what direction he should go. Gordon told him that he had been watching the young driver for awhile and was interested in signing him for a fourth HMS team. The pieces came together late in 2000 with Gordon sharing ownership of the team with Rick Hendrick. The #48 and #24 teams share the same raceshop and personnel-- two teams functioning as a single unit. Johnson won his first Busch race in 2001 at Chicagoland Speedway and made his Nextel Cup debut later in the year.
Hendrick is the President and CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group, one of the worlds largest automotive dealership operations with numerous franchises in locations that range from North Carolina to California and annual revenues of more than $2 billion. The Hendrick Automotive Group is the number one retailer in terms of new car sales and dollar volume in the country, and also holds the number one position in used car sales and dollar volume.
Hendrick Motorsports, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, fields multiple teams in NASCAR, including the 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2001 championship team driven by Jeff Gordon. He also fields the Farmer's/Quaker State team with driver Kasey Kahne, the AMP Energy/National Guard team with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr, and the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 Lowes championship team with driver Jimmie Johnson.
Rick Hendrick redefined NASCAR racing by making multi-car teams work. Some of the sport's great names have driven for him since he began his investment in NASCAR in 1984. Geoff Bodine, Tim Richmond, and Darrell Waltrip are a few of the well known names to drive for Hendrick. When others told him that multi-car teams couldn't work, he didn't retreat. He stay focused on his goals and dreams and has set the standard for multi-car teams in NASCAR.
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