Rick Hendrick talks about Chase Elliott’s win: “I was not sitting. I was pacing” during final laps at Watkins Glen

FONTANA, CA - MARCH 22: Chase Elliott (left), driver of the #9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, talks with team owner Rick Hendrick before the NASCAR Nationwide Series TREATMYCLOT.COM 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2014 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Lost among the news of Chase Elliott’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup win Sunday at Watkins Glen was the milestone for the Hendrick Motorsports team.

Sunday was the team’s 250th Cup win.

Team owner Rick Hendrick wasn’t there to celebrate.

He did talk about the win after it was over.

“Chase is such a great young man and such a super, unbelievable driver and he should have had this win his first season,” he said. “He should have about, I don’t know, seven or eight wins and for him to… I hated he had to wait this long, but boy what a show he put on today pressing two of the best in the business and being up there all day and not making mistakes.  He has got an awesome amount of talent. I think today was a statement. A road course, battling Kyle (Busch) and Denny (Hamlin) and Martin (Truex, Jr.) it was so much fun to see all the fans that think so much of him to show their appreciation.  It was exciting.”

As for the final laps Sunday as Elliott was leading?

“I was not sitting. I was pacing,” he said.  “Road courses are long laps anyway, but man, when he missed that turn in (turn) 1 I couldn’t believe he thought of it so quick to take the car out of gear to keep from spinning out.  It was the longest 20 laps that I have ever watched in a race. I wore out a pair of shoes walking around the living room.  Just glued to the TV and on my phone texting. It was nerve racking, but man, what a great win.”

The win was also the 250th for the organization.

“It felt the same way when we were at 199. It just seemed like it took forever to get to 200,” Hendrick said.  “And then, you know, we have had a dry spell.  This has been one of the longest dry spells that we have ever had.  We could see we were gaining on it, but it feels so good to get a win for Chevrolet and for our sponsors.  Really happy for SunEnergy1, NAPA, Hooters and everybody on Chase’s car.  250 is a lot of races. I guess it means I’m an old man.”

Now that the team has won, it’s first since last Dover with Jimmie Johnson last spring, the team is hoping to build some momentum.

“Well, you know, when you have a dry spell, this is the right time to get the momentum,” Hendrick said.  “This is the right time to be closing the gap and building that momentum.  I’m so proud of all the folks at Hendrick Motorsports for keeping their head down and working hard.  The last three weeks Chase has won stages in every one of the races and to see Alex (Bowman) and William (Byron) run well, I think Jimmie (Johnson) got turned there today, but I’m just so proud of the effort for everyone.  And everybody at Chevrolet has worked really hard.  When you go to a new car there are some things you’ve got to figure out, and then we had some organizational changes with the way we do business and putting everybody in one building. We had a lot of change, new drivers, young drivers, but I feel really good about the future.  I feel good going into the Playoffs.  It’s going to be super competitive, but I think we know we still have a lot of work to do, but this is going to motivate our people to just step it up again.  It’s a great shot in the arm for the whole organization.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.