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Alex Bowman still waiting to drag race Rick Hendrick

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The stakes were established 12 months ago, but Alex Bowman is still waiting to take on the boss man.

After he won the pole for the 2018 Daytona 500, Bowman and car owner Rick Hendrick revealed they were planning a drag race.

Bowman’s personal Corvette versus Hendrick’s. Winner may or may not get the loser’s car.

“One of us is going to lose a Corvette,’’ Hendrick said then.

But February has arrived with Daytona Speedweeks and the race has yet to take place.

The weather is an alleged culprit.

“Mr. H says we can (race), but we can’t run until it gets warmer outside,” Bowman said Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. “It was like 70-some degrees the day before we left (North Carolina). But he needs it warmer. I guess his car doesn’t like it when it’s cold or something.”

But Bowman, entering his second full-time season driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, said there’s been too much talk between him and Hendrick for it to not happen.

“Eventually, it’s gotta happen,” Bowman said. “‘Cause I know he has hired some people to purposely make his car faster than mine. I’ve got a couple tricks up my sleeve, too. We’re both pretty invested in this race for it not to happen, to just be talking about it for the last two years. It kind of has to happen at this point.”

Bowman is hopeful the race will happen “in the next couple of months.”

But Bowman wouldn’t dare call his employer “scared” for possibly dragging his feet for the drag race.

“If I called him scared right now, it’s going to end really badly for me,” Bowman said. “I’m going to show up and he’s going to have a six-second drag car or seven-second drag car. I do not think Mr. Hendrick is scared of drag racing my street car. I think he’s just making sure he embarrasses me. He doesn’t just (want to) beat me by a little bit. He’s got to beat me by a lot.”

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Jeff Gordon would be ‘truly honored’ to take on ownership of Hendrick Motorsports

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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.”

Rick Hendrick wants Jeff Gordon ‘in my place’ when he steps away

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In an interview for an Autoweek story detailing NASCAR teams and their plans for ownership succession, Rick Hendrick dropped news about who he sees as being the future leader of Hendrick Motorsports.

Hendrick, 69, said his former driver, Jeff Gordon, would someday take charge of the team he started in 1984.

“That’s the way we’re going. Whenever I finally step away, it’ll be Jeff Gordon in my place,” Hendrick told Autoweek.

Gordon, 47, is already a long-time minority owner of the team, a result of a contract he signed in 1999.

But don’t expect Hendrick to give up the reigns soon.

“I love this and still enjoy it so much, and it’s tied to my automotive businesses,” Hendrick said. “My health is good, so I expect to be around for a long time.”

But it’s possible Gordon’s heart wouldn’t be into being sole owner of the race team he competed for from 1992 – 2016, or at least as the owner of his own team.

Gordon discussed the possibility of ownership on Tuesday during a Q&A related to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s podcast, “The Dale Jr. Download.”

“I would not be an owner if it weren’t for Rick Hendrick and being there for such a long time and the contract that I signed that helped me be an equity owner,” Gordon said. “I want to be partners with Rick in the business. I certainly would never want to go out and do this on my own. Nor would I even be capable of (it).”

Gordon has a history of ownership outside Hendrick. He and his former crew chief, Ray Evernham, co-owned Gordon-Evernham Motorsports, an Xfinity Series team they fielded from 1999-2000.

Gordon went on to explain what keeps him from being more involved in Hendrick Motorsports: the state of the NASCAR business model.

“I’m always so interested in what’s happening from the business aspect,” Gordon said. “I’ve got to say, (Interim CEO and Chairman) Jim France and the France family and the involvement they have right now, (President) Steve Phelps. I’m seeing some momentum of some thing things, what’s happening with the (Race Team Alliance). There’s just some cool things that are happening and it all got started I think talking about Comcast coming in and buying NASCAR.

“Whether that was ever a reality or whatever was going to happen, what it’s generated is concerted efforts where people are coming together to try and take the sport to the next level from a business viability standpoint. That’s what I’m excited about. If it could do that, you would see me far more involved. But right now, if you look at the business model on paper, no, it doesn’t make sense. We’re lucky to have racing as more of a hobby and do it the level we do it because of our partners.”

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NASCAR President Steve Phelps discusses multiple topics in media session

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. — NASCAR President Steve Phelps met with the media for about 40 minutes Sunday, answering various questions about the sport.

Here’s a synopsis of some of the topics he discussed:

On the transition in NASCAR’s leadership that includes Jim France as interim Chairman and CEO: “You have seen Jim France at all the races since Michigan. He goes to driver councils, (manufacturer) councils, team councils, Jim is involved in the business in a significant way.”

On the 2019 rules package: “The rules package was put in place because we want to have the most competitive racing that we can. We believe the 2019 rules package does exactly that. … We do believe that this racing, which today arguably is the best we’ve ever had, is going to get better. We have a promise to our fans and that promise is about close, competitive side-by-side racing and we believe this 2019 rules package will give us exactly that.”

On the inspection process: “We’re going to look at the inspection process. Will there be changes to it? There might be.”

On if Brian France be back as Chairman: “I can’t speak to whether Brian is coming back or not. I do know that Jim France is our Chairman and CEO. I do know that Jim France is incredibly involved in this sport.”

On trying to find new ownership of teams: “I think it comes back to making sure that owning a race team is something that is not a hobby. It is a business. You need to have people that love it. Roger Penske loves racing. We need to make sure we find that next Roger Penske, we find that next Jack Roush, we find that next Rick Hendrick.”

On what is realistic to expect on changes to the schedule: “I think everything is in play. We’ve heard from our fan base that they would like to see more short track racing, they want to see more road courses, they want to see less cookie-cutter tracks, whatever that means. We are looking with our broadcast partners and with our tracks and teams and drivers to get input on what each of them believes would be an idea schedule and then we’re obviously doing fan research as a part of it. Do I believe that everything is on the table? I do. Will we see a lot of the things that have been talked about? So more short tracks, more road courses, doubleheaders, mid-week racing, pulling the season forward, all those things would be in play. Don’t know what’s going to happen, but we are working diligently on what a 2020 schedule would be.”

On if IndyCar and NASCAR could race at the same track on the same weekend: I know that there are people that would like to see that. I think it would be a good show. We would have to figure out how that works.

On how NASCAR can bridge the gap so a driver who performs on track (such as Truck champion Brett Moffitt, who does not have a ride for 2019) can help such drivers with rides: “Listen, Brett Moffitt is obviously a very talented race car driver who has won more this year obviously than he’s ever won.  He has a bright future. What that future looks like, I don’t know.  What I do know is that we work with race teams from a revenue standpoint as much as we can. We also work with drivers to try to bridge driver opportunities. Are we always successful in getting a driver who wants to be driving in whatever series they want to drive in? No. But there are a lot of historical things that we have done to try to make sure that if a driver is interested in continuing that that driver has that opportunity.”

Click here for full transcript of Steve Phelps media session

Hendrick Motorsports reveals Jimmie Johnson’s sponsor for 2019-20

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Ally Financial will serve as the primary sponsor for seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson’s car for all 38 races in 2019 and 2020, Hendrick Motorsports announced Sunday on NBCSN.

Ally Financial, which will be on Johnson’s car for the 36 points races and two non-points races, replaces Lowe’s, which had been Johnson’s primary sponsor since his rookie season in 2002.

“This is a proud day for our entire organization,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, in a statement. “Ally has built a tremendous brand by putting the customer at the center of their decisions and doing things right. In the same way, Jimmie has always put people first and handled himself like a champion in every sense of the word. Ally’s full-season commitment makes a powerful statement about their enthusiasm for him, our program and the direction of our sport. It’s an unbelievable fit, and all of us are thrilled to launch what will be a long and successful partnership.”

Ally Financial is a leading digital financial services company. Ally’s full scope of financial services offerings includes its award-winning online bank, auto finance and insurance businesses, digital wealth management and online brokerage platform, mortgage-lending services, and Corporate Finance operation. 

“We are beyond thrilled to be in the fast lane with Jimmie Johnson, one of the most successful drivers in the history of NASCAR, and with Hendrick Motorsports, a premier organization in professional sports,” said Jeffrey Brown, CEO at Ally, in a statement. “Both share Ally’s passion for delivering results for our customers and for our communities, with a deep commitment to ‘do it right’ for the people who count on us most. We look forward to working with this extraordinary team to build a strong and successful relationship as Ally enters this exciting sport.”

Said Johnson, who is signed with Hendrick through the 2020 season, in a statement: “The opportunity to work with a partner like Ally is incredible. Their commitment to leading in both the workplace and the community is something that resonates with me in a big way. They’ve sent a strong message about how much they believe in me and in our team, and I will do my part to make sure it’s the best investment they’ve ever made. I’m ready to chase more history with Ally on board the ‘48.’”

Hendrick Motorsports states that this announcement is the organization’s 17th new partner or renewal this season. That list includes Axalta (renewal through 2022), Hertz (new partner through 2019), Hooters (renewal through 2021), Mountain Dew (renewal through 2020), NAPA Auto Parts (renewal through 2020), Nationwide (renewal through 2020), Club Car (new partner through 2020) and Valvoline (renewal through 2022).