This Sunday at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Rick Hendrick's quartet of drivers will all be looking for a victory to help their position to race for the Sprint Cup championship over the final ten weeks. Jeff Gordon needs a win to even get into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, most likely, but the defending Advocare 500 champ could certainly pull that off.
Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are locked into the Chase and seeking to pad their bonus points entering the 10-race playoff. Should Johnson win Sunday or next Saturday in Richmond, he would be the No. 1 Chase seed so long as Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, or Tony Stewart don't win one of these last two races. Kasey Kahne's two wins make him all but a lock for a wild card, but a victory could help him jump into the top-10, which would allow him to use the bonus points earned for his triumphs.
A win Sunday by any member of the Hendrick stable will allow the legendary team owner to tie the iconic Wood Brothers for the most victories at AMS. The HMS team currently has 11 triumphs at Atlanta, the first coming in March 1989 with Darrell Waltrip and his No. 17 Tide-sponsored Chevy.
In addition to Waltrip, Gordon (a five-time Atlanta winner), and Johnson (a three-time victor), Ken Schrader (March 1991) and Jerry Nadeau (November 2000, his only career win) have also driven Hendrick Chevies to victory lane.
In addition to the 11 victories, Hendrick Motorsports either clinched or celebrated his organization's first five titles in the Cup Series (Gordon's four crowns in 1995, '97, '98, and 2001 and Terry Labonte's 1996 championship) at Atlanta, making it a venue with a lot of special memories for the juggernaut.
The biggest victory for Hendrick at Atlanta, of course, was Johnson's first win at the track in October 2004. One week prior, a plane crashed en route to Martinsville, killing nine members of the Hendrick organization including Rick Hendrick's son Ricky, brother John, and longtime engine builder Randy Dorton. Johnson used fresh tires to pass a dominant Mark Martin late in the race, then held off Martin's own charge on new rubber to score one of the most emotional wins in Sprint Cup history.
List of Hendrick Motorsports victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway:
Date/Event/Winning Driver and Car
1. March 19, 1989 - Motorcraft Quality Parts 500 - Darrell Waltrip, No. 17 Tide Chevrolet
2. March 18, 1991 - Motorcraft Quality Parts 500 - Ken Schrader, No. 25 Kodiak Chevrolet
3. March 12,, 1995 - Purolator 500 - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
4. November 8, 1998 - NAPA 500 - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
5. March 14, 1999 - Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
6. November 20, 2000 - NAPA 500 - Jerry Nadeau, No. 25 Michael Holigan Homes Chevrolet
7. October 28, 2003 - Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
8. October 31, 2004 - Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet
9. March 18, 2007 - Kobalt Tools 500 - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
10. October 28, 2007 - Pep Boys Auto 500 - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
11. September 6, 2011 - Advocare 500 - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet