Rick Hendrick and the Future of Hendrick Motorsports: Genius or Big Bust?

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer IJuly 1, 2009

HARRISBURG, NC - JANUARY 21:  Hendrick Motorsports' Chevrolet Impalas are displayed during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway on January 21, 2009 at Hendrick Motorsports in Harrisburg, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images )

There's an age old saying when it comes to your competition, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Rick Hendrick and the organization that he founded 25 years ago, then turned into a dynasty, never had a problem not being able to beat their competition.

HMS has over 181 Sprint Cup victories, eight Cup championships, as well as victories and championships in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. 

This is an organization that knows how to win and can flat out get things done, and their drivers are always a factor every weekend.

In NASCAR, it's all about getting ahead of your competition and finding the edge that no one else has. It's about producing the best equipment that other organizations are jealous of and makes them work harder.

Hendrick Motorsports is that organization—the one that makes everyone else work harder, and the organization that everyone is shooting for week after week and year after year.

But for how much longer?

David Phillips recently pointed out that Red Bull Racing is rumored to be thinking of switching manufacturers from Toyota to Chevrolet, and if that happens they will get technical support from HMS.

The two Red Bull cars of Brian Vickers and Scott Speed would add to the laundry list of cars that Hendrick supports.

HMS already runs four cars full-time: Mark Martin (No. 5), Jeff Gordon (No. 24), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88). And then there is the limited schedule for the No. 25 of Brad Keselowski.

The Nationwide Series has two cars that are run under the JR. Motorsports/Hendrick Motorsports banner, bringing the total to seven cars that HMS is building.

When Tony Stewart started his two-car team of himself and Ryan Newman, he turned to Rick Hendrick for not only personnel but for chassis and engines. However, many are assuming that this is not just a technical alliance and that Stewart and Newman are unofficial teammates to the Hendrick foursome.

For instance, after Stewart won at Pocono, Rick Hendrick was seen in victory lane with Stewart and later said that he, of course, always wants to see his equipment succeed. He then revealed that Stewart and Newman are given the same information that all four Hendrick cars have and share.

More recently, eyebrows were raised when Dale Earnhardt Jr. was talking about his setup for New Hampshire. Earnhardt Jr. told the media and the TV audience that he was running a set-up that was close to what Stewart and Newman were running, not what Johnson, Martin and Gordon were running.

So, add the Stewart-Haas cars to the list to make it now nine cars, as well as add them to the information sharing superhighway that HMS employs with all their teams and drivers.

Hendrick also leases out engines to the No. 78 Furniture Row team and the No. 09 for Phoenix Racing that Brad Keselowski drove to victory lane in a wild finish at Talladega. 

Make it now 11 cars with HMS fingerprints on them.

In 2010, that number could grow to 13 if there is any truth to the Red Bull Racing rumors. Or if something else were to happen the number may even rise to 14.

Keselowski has said that he wants a full-time Sprint Cup Series ride next year, meaning he can either bolt for another team that has an open seat available or could help bring JR Motorsports to the Cup Series or become a third car at Stewart-Haas Racing which would bring the grand total to 14 Sprint Cup Series cars from Hendrick Motorsports.

As Phillips said, "Welcome to the Hendrick Cup Series."

To some, they really don't see a problem with this scenario if it becomes reality. They may be right, as Hendrick has said all along that every car is getting the same equipment and no one will be given anything less to as a way to keep them from performing. 

Will he be saying that if Stewart and Newman make the Chase and beat Johnson or Gordon for the Championship?

What if all these cars and organizations that get support from HMS go out and build their company up and become just as big as HMS and start beating them week in and week out?

As I mentioned earlier, my impression was that NASCAR was all about building your organization to be the best and have elite equipment.

Seems hard to do that when now most of your competition is going to have the same stuff as you do. I guess that would be the only time that it's acceptable to beat yourself.

Hendrick is a smart man and an excellent business man when it comes to NASCAR and what his organization needs to do and what his teams need in order to succeed and win. His accomplishments show that.

Hendrick must feel this isn't as big of a mess as it seems on paper. His company is the top of the Chevrolet teams and it knows how to keep them there.

It's obvious that the money will continue to roll into HMS and the organization will continue to produce equipment for anyone who wants it. That will keep Rick Hendrick in business and will make him a happy man. 

But will he feel the pressure to keep all of his drivers happy?

Then again, maybe we have this all backwards. Maybe these teams have all seen that they can't beat Hendrick Motorsports, so instead they've decided to join 'em.