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‘Mr. H’ Headed Into Texas Motorsports Hall Of Fame

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, April 7 2015
Rick Hendrick is set to be inducted into the the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Rick Hendrick is set to be inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

FORT WORTH, Texas – His all-star lineup of NASCAR drivers respectfully refers to him as “Mr. H.” Beginning Thursday, the personnel at Hendrick Motorsports can address team-owner Rick Hendrick as “Mr. HOF.”

Hendrick, mentor to multiple Sprint Cup Series champions Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, will headline a distinguished list of honorees during the annual Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala benefitting Speedway Children’s Charities in The Speedway Club’s Grand Ballroom at Texas Motor Speedway. The event is the official lead-in to NASCAR’s Duck Commander 500 weekend.

Joseph Riddick “Rick” Hendrick will become the 17th individual inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame.  Other honorees during a program featuring Hendrick Motorsports drivers past and present include NASCAR Hall of Famer and three-time Cup champion Darrell Waltrip; Gordon, a four-time Cup champion; 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Chase Elliott and Duck Commander, TMS’ April race title sponsor.

Hendrick’s induction caps a wealth of success his organization has enjoyed at Texas Motor Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports’ six career Sprint Cup Series victories are second-most by a team owner, trailing the nine compiled by fellow Texas Motorsports Hall of Famer Jack Roush. HMS’ first victory at Texas Motor Speedway is fondly remembered by Texans as Terry Labonte, a native of Corpus Christi, captured a win in 1999 at his home track. Hendrick’s most recent victory at TMS was recorded in November’s AAA Texas 500, with Johnson winning for the third consecutive time.

Johnson (six), Gordon (four) and Labonte (one) have combined to deliver 11 Cup championships to Hendrick, whose organization also has one Xfinity Series and three Camping World Truck Series titles. Hendrick’s drivers have scored a combined 257 race wins in NASCAR’s three touring series since 1984. Hendrick entered NASCAR under the All-Star Racing banner in ‘84 as a one-car operation with Geoffrey Bodine, who won three races that season. A native of Palmer Springs, Va., Hendrick previously owned a championship-winning drag boat team before entering NASCAR competition.

Hendrick will join the roll call of accomplished drivers from various series and innovative motorsports leaders inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame since its inception in 2003. Previous inductees: A.J. Foyt Jr. (2003), Johnny Rutherford (’03), Labonte (’04), Lee Shepherd (’04), Kenny Bernstein (’05), Jim Hall (’05), Eddie Hill (’06), Mark Martin (’07), Jim McElreath (’07), Bobby Labonte (’08), O. Bruton Smith (’08), Joe Gibbs (’09), John Force (’10), Lanny Edwards (’11) Roush (’12) and Roger Penske (2013).

Waltrip, who has played an integral role in NASCAR as champion driver and broadcaster, will receive the Bruton Smith Legend Award. Waltrip scored his NASCAR championships in 1981, 1982 and 1985 while driving for legendary owner/driver Junior Johnson. During the course of his 29-year career, Waltrip amassed 84 wins, placing him in a tie with Bobby Allison for fourth all-time. Waltrip scored nine of his Cup wins while driving for Hendrick from 1987-90, including six in 1989. Named one of “NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998, Waltrip was inducted into the third class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012. Following his driving career, “Ol’ D.W.” transitioned into broadcasting as lead analyst for NASCAR on FOX in 2001.

Gordon, who is competing in his 23rd and final full Cup season, will be honored with the Texas Motor Speedway Sportsmanship Award. Cup champion in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001, Gordon has supported efforts for pediatric cancer research, treatment and patient support programs through the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation. What started as a small project has grown into a foundation that has raised more than $15-million for children’s health organizations. He has extended the fight to ending pediatric cancer globally, helping fund the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence in Rwanda in 2011. Gordon also has helped Speedway Children’s Charities through the Jeff Gordon Corvette Raffle, which has raised $425,000 for the organization.

Elliott, who recorded his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in last year’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300, will receive the Texas Motor Speedway Racer of the Year Award. At the age of 18 years, 4 months and 7 days, Elliott became the second-youngest driver to win an Xfinity Series race. Elliott scored his breakthrough victory against a field of some of the biggest names in NASCAR – Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth – after passing JR Motorsports teammate Harvick with 16 laps remaining to take a lead he would not relinquish.

The son of 1988 Cup champion Bill Elliott, Chase became the first Xfinity Series rookie driver to win at Texas Motor Speedway, which opened in 1997. He also finished fourth in November’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Xfinity Series race in Fort Worth.

Duck Commander, which has played a major role in supporting the initiatives of Speedway Children’s Charities, will receive the Maj. General Thomas Sadler Award. The company made famous by the Robertson family of the popular A&E reality show Duck Dynasty officially joined TMS as a race sponsor in 2014. The generosity of Duck Commander has helped Speedway Children’s Charities raise more than $55,000 to benefit children in North Texas during the last year.

Located in the outdoor atrium adjacent to The Speedway Club, the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame is free to the public and remains open year-round. The Hall of Fame atrium features pedestals of the inductees with a portrait painting and career highlights.

The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala is one of the many fundraisers conducted by Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter throughout the year. Its mission is to care for children in educational, financial, social and medical need in order to help them lead productive lives. Since its founding in 1997, Texas Chapter has awarded more than $9.7-million in grants and has touched the lives of more than three million children.

The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala will begin with dinner at 7:30 p.m. (CDT) followed by the start of ceremonies at approximately 8 p.m. Table sponsorships, beginning at $1,500, and individual tickets for $150, are available by calling the Speedway Children’s Charities office at (817) 215-8421.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, April 7 2015
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