Jeff Gordon Organizes Season Kick-Off Event for Hendrick Motorsports Teams
By Gabrille McMillen - Hendrick Motorsports
A new preseason tradition with Hendrick Motorsports has been born, largely thanks to Jeff Gordon.
The retired NASCAR legend created a fun and lighthearted way to kick off the 2020 season by masterminding a “play date” for all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers and crew chiefs.
Chase Elliott, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman and their crew chiefs all met at the drag strip adjacent to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday for an obstacle course competition, NASCAR style.
“Having my perspective now on racing after stepping away from it, you realize how important it is to build chemistry among you and your team, but also among your teammates, and Rick Hendrick certainly built his organization on that, and I think that you’re always trying to come up with ideas on how to grow that,” Gordon said.
The idea for the team bonding session bloomed last year, when Gordon went to a training session and drivers were able to compete in similar activities as a part of friendly competition. For Gordon, it was important for the Hendrick Motorsports teams to get together and have fun before the season officially begins at Daytona.
“Chase Elliott and I went to FBI training … and when I left there I said this is such an amazing way to engage your brain and get yourself ready to go into a competitive battle in the season, and so (I) ran it by (Hendrick Motorsports president) Marshall Carlson and some of the guys and said, ‘I’d love to do this to kick off the season.’ Of course, it expanded from there to a whole ‘nother level, thanks to Dale Ledbetter, Michael Landis and a bunch of folks … We wanted to have three events to challenge them (and) have a point system, obviously put them on the clock and also be kind of technical (with) precision mixed in with speed.”
The obstacle course was divided into three tasks, where the drivers competed to finish each task without going outside predetermined parameters.
The first two events were tracks set up by Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports crew members with the simple objective of finishing the fastest. The last task was a slalom-style course set up with cones with two “boxes” created with tall cones at each end of the slalom.
The drivers needed to drive forward through the slalom and enter the first box without knocking into any cones, then had to slalom backward and enter the other box, rear bumper first.
While entering the second box backward, the driver had to get his bumper as close as possible to a tall cone with an egg perched on top. If a driver ran over a cone throughout the course or knocked the egg over, one second per mistake was deducted off his time.
Elliott took home the honors for the best overall score, winning a trophy with a gearshift on top of Hendrick Motorsports’ signature H.
“I did terrible at the first little road course and then..."
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