CHARLOTTE, N.C. — At some point, Jeff Gordon could be introduced as the owner of Hendrick Motorsports.
If that moment comes, the four-time Cup champion said he would be “truly honored” to take the reign from the team’s founder, Rick Hendrick.
Gordon, who is a minority owner of the team he drove full-time for from 1993-2015, addressed his potential future Sunday before his induction into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
Hendrick himself made waves in December when he indicated Gordon could take over for him.
“That’s the way we’re going. Whenever I finally step away, it’ll be Jeff Gordon in my place,” Hendrick was quoted as saying in an Autoweek feature. The story focused on how Cup teams are planning for the future with aging owners.
Hendrick, who has owned Hendrick Motorsports since 1984, turns 70 in July. Gordon, 47, has been an analyst for Fox Sports since 2016 and recently signed a multi-year extension with the network.
Gordon said he and Hendrick have been talking about his potential future since three years before he retired.
“I went to Rick and told him what I wanted to do and felt like it was the right time,” Gordon said. “I felt like things were starting to line up with Chase Elliott. So those things were playing out well timing-wise for me and I thought for Hendrick. Because I have so much respect for the organization, being not just an equity owner but what they’ve done for me, what that organization did for my career, I feel like I owe that back to them to be respectful and to try and give all that I can back to it to continue to see it be successful even when I stepped away.”
At the time of their conversation, Gordon didn’t think Hendrick was ready to step aside and they agreed going into TV would be good branding for Gordon and HMS.
Their conversations have continued through his first three seasons with Fox, a job Gordon said “suits me well.”
“I just told him, ‘Rick, I’m really liking TV. And I don’t think you’re quite ready and I don’t know if I’m quite ready to move into that role, so I’m probably going to sign an extension or new contract with Fox to keep doing that,'” Gordon said. “So of course I told him that and then he went and put that out in there in the media.”
Gordon doesn’t know exactly what will come of his ownership talks with Hendrick, but that “I can see in the future that interesting me a lot,” Gordon said.
Gordon also advocates for more teams having former drivers with business savvy in leadership roles.
“We need more guys like Tony (Stewart), like myself, others who are racers that get the business side of it,” Gordon said. “They see the business side of it and have somebody, a mentor like a Rick Hendrick, like a Jack Roush or a Roger Penske or whoever it may be to be able to form who that person can be to take over that role.”
Gordon said the “greatest news” coming out of the ownership speculation is that Hendrick “doesn’t want to see the destiny of Hendrick end any time soon.
“If that day ever comes, I would be truly honored even though I don’t think I can do the job that he’s done.”
Should he one day take up Hendrick’s mantle, Gordon noted that he’d finally have to work for a living.
“That would be the first time other than when my parents made me sweep floors and run the machine shop … when I was a kid during summers that I actually had a real job,” Gordon said. “‘Cause running a race team or being in that role in a race team, that is a real job.”