By Toby Christie (Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie)
In a freshly published piece on Autoweek, Al Pearce and Mike Hembre do an in-depth breakdown of what will happen to some of NASCAR’s largest teams when their aging owners decide to step down.
It is a fascinating read, and worth your time.
An interesting and fun nugget though, is that Rick Hendrick, who has a record 12 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships, made a declaration of who will be taking his place once he decides to step away from being an owner of a NASCAR team.
Hendrick, 69, was quoted in the wide ranging article, “That’s the way we’re going. Whenever I finally step away, it’ll be Jeff Gordon in my place.”
Gordon, 47, is a 93-time race winning driver at the Cup Series level and he was instrumental in Hendrick Motorsports’ rise to their current levels as he captured four championships as a driver (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001).
Gordon retired from full-time Cup Series racing at the conclusion of the 2015 season, and aside from an eight-race stint where he filled in for an injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2016, Gordon has stayed out of the car. Instead, Gordon has been a fixture in the booth for FOX Sports.
That spot in the booth would seemingly be forfeited when Gordon eventually takes on his new role as operator of Hendrick Motorsports someday.
Hendrick has been grooming Gordon behind the scenes for years as Gordon has an ownership stake in the No. 48 car that has been driven by Jimmie Johnson since 2002. Hendrick has also said in recent years that Gordon has also been front and center at a bunch of board meetings.
For those Gordon fans who are anxious to see their favorite guy as the front man for one of NASCAR’s most successful teams, Hendrick did also elude in the article that he isn’t ready to step down just yet either.
Hendrick mentioned that his health is still good, and he even joked that his goal is to last one year longer than his friend Roger Penske as a NASCAR team owner.
But rest assured it looks like there is a plan — and a solid plan at that — in place for the future of Hendrick Motorsports.