In the last two weeks, Rick Hendrick has won everything in sight: Jimmie Johnson delivered the team owner his 200th career NASCAR Sprint Cup win at Darlington, and Johnson’s crew followed that up last Thursday by winning the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge.
Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the home track for Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Sprint Showdown and the fourth segment of the Sprint All-Star Race, while Johnson won the first and final segments to capture his record-tying third All-Star title.
And in a nationwide competition among dealerships, one of Hendrick’s BMW stores was named best in the United States, with a second outlet among the eight finalists.
Hendrick has a chance to continue his hot streak Wednesday in Charlotte, when a panel will select the five new members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2013. Hendrick is one of the 25 nominees under consideration.
SPEED will televise the NASCAR Hall of Fame activities live, with a special preview show at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, followed by the announcement of the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame class on NASCAR Race Hub at 6 p.m.
During an appearance at the grand opening of his Hendrickcars.com dealership in Charlotte on Tuesday, Hendrick said that he’d like to see others get in before him.
“I’m honored if that happens, but there’s a lot of people that are not around today that deserve to be in the Hall of Fame,” Hendrick said. “It’s an honor, and I know when I look at the numbers that one day I’ll get there, but I’m not going to be disappointed. I’d like to see some folks that deserve it, that are dead, and maybe been gone for years get in before the fans forget them. I’d like to see them in.”
Echoing a sentiment others have shared, Hendrick said he would have like the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame Class in 2010 to be bigger than just five people.
“I wish we could have done about 10 or 15 at one lick and get the Wendell Scotts ... and I hope Tim Richmond gets in one day and Harry Hyde. There’s so many people who are out there that are deserving. You can’t put everybody in, but you don’t want the fans to forget those folks that they never knew.”
Hendrick said one person who deserves to be in the hall but so far hasn’t been nominated is Bruton Smith, chairman and CEO of track operator Speedway Motorsports Inc. Smith and former NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr. were bitter rivals, which could be one reason Smith has not been nominated despite being one of the most significant power brokers in NASCAR in recent decades.
“Look what Bruton’s done for the sport,” said Hendrick. “The tracks and how many tracks he owns, and him and Humpy (former Charlotte Motor Speeday president H.A. ‘Humpy’ Wheeler), how they had the circus atmosphere and brought entertainment to the sport. So where do they fit in? I could give you probably 75 names (of worthy nominees).”
Hendrick said instead of worrying about getting into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, he’s going to focus on what’s ahead on track.
“We’ve got some more to do,” he said. “We sure would like to win some more championships and win more races and add to what we got.”
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100.