Rick Hendrick hands-on with slumping team

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RICHMOND, Va. – Hendrick Motorsports’ summer slump has earned some attention from its namesake.

Jeff Gordon said team owner Rick Hendrick led “some great meetings” heading into Saturday night’s Federated 400 at Richmond International Raceway, which marks the last race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs.

“This is where he shines as a leader in motivating all of us in the messaging he gives us,” Gordon said. “It’s not like we’ve never been down before. We have. And I think that in so many ways, it makes us stronger. And I don’t know if we’re going to be able to find it through the Chase this year, but I guarantee you that we’re not going to stop working hard until we get back on top.”

Since Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s victory at Daytona International Speedway, Hendrick’s four Chevrolets have led only seven laps in eight races – five by Gordon and two by Kasey Kahne. Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson, who finished 1-2  and led 131 of 161 laps at Daytona, haven’t paced a circuit during the drought.

“There’s no secret that we’re off right now, as an organization,” Gordon said. “And we’re searching a little bit. We’re working extremely hard, I can tell you that.”

Hendrick has shined at restrictor-plate races (Earnhardt has won the past two) and started the season well with Johnson winning four of the first 13 races.

But since July, the spotlight has belonged to Joe Gibbs Racing, which has won seven of the past eight.

“The competition has done an amazing job with the work that they’ve done in getting an edge,” Gordon said. “And I give them nothing but credit for it. And just like they’ve used us as motivation in the past of how good our teams have been and how we’ve worked together and have dominated, they’ve utilized that and now we’re utilizing it, as well as motivation.”