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“Chase [Elliott] Is Out of the Car” – Rick Hendrick Says “People Don’t Wait for You” as He Reveals Behind-the-Scenes Operations at HMS

Published 09/30/2023, 6:07 PM EDT

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It takes a split second for an athlete’s world to come crashing down around them. Mental anguish, and a split second later, Gold Medalist Simone Biles was out of the Tokyo Olympics. A rough tackle and a split second later, Buffalo Bills‘s Damar Hamlin was on the ground. A snowboarding accident and a split second later, 2022 regular season champion Chase Elliott’s chances of repeating the feat crumbled.

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But what happens when incidents like the above happen? The apparent ease with which wins come the way of these star sportspersons might suddenly change, and it might feel like sailing into a hostile storm. A storm where they are left clutching their lifeboats to stay afloat. It is during times like these that a helping hand is required. Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick saw his struggling driver and knew what he had to do to keep the golden boy afloat.

Rick Hendrick gives a reality check; Chase Elliott makes an admission


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Rick Hendrick celebrated a remarkable milestone recently. With a late-race sprint in Texas, his #24 driver presented HMS with its 300th victory. As William Byron, Rick Hendrick, and the rest of the team were joyous at the achievement, two of the HMS racers cast a shadow upon Hendrick’s jubilant face. NASCAR’s most popular driver, Chase Elliott, had little to celebrate. Neither did Alex Bowman—the racer at the top of drivers’ standings in the early part of the season—have much to go back with.

However, as every other ardent sports fan knows, with or without individual superstars, teams move on. The Buffalo Bills went on to play their next game without Hamlin. The US Gymnast team collected their Olympic medals in the absence of Biles. And even with Elliott and Bowman’s missed races, Hendrick Motorsports qualified for the playoffs with Kyle Larson and William Byron. Well-versed with the transient nature of the sport, the concerned owner laid bare a harsh reality. As reported by, Rick Hendrick said,


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“When Chase [Elliott] is out of the car and when Alex [Bowman] is out of the car, look at the time they lose with the others racing. Yeah, we got the information, but the car has to be tuned to the driver. They get back in the car and they got to catch up. In this sport, you don’t catch up easily. People don’t wait for you.”

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These ominous words could derail the most arduous journeys. However, the #9 driver berated himself for events outside his control. Refusing to let the Next Gen car take responsibility for his setback, Chase Elliott owned up to his failure. In a recent interview with Frontstretch, Elliott admitted,

“I really don’t think the cars are the problem. I think I need to be better…I just don’t think that’s an excuse. It’s just not how I work. I think I can be better. I think I can do more to extract the pace out of our car.”

With 74 years of accumulated wisdom, Rick Hendrick went to his dejected driver and gave him a message.


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Rick Hendrick has a message to boost the #9 and #48 teams

Chase Elliott began his year with two Top 5 finishes in the first few weeks of the season. But after his brutal injuries, try as he might, he couldn’t regain his earlier form to qualify for the playoffs. There were growing apprehensions about his inconsistent performances. But there was one person who did not get deterred by his star driver’s unfortunate circumstances. Rick Hendrick relayed the only gesture he found appropriate for such trying times.

“You just have to put your arm around them and say, ‘Look, this happened. Now let’s get ready for next year. Let’s see if we can get better every single week as the year goes on.'” He didn’t just stop there. He also went to the crew who toil day in and day out to rally behind their racers. “To Alan [Gustafson] and Blake [Harris], we have to say, ‘Guys, we are 100 percent behind you. We know this is going to work. We just got to keep our heads up. There’s no pressure.”


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There is no pressure. Four simple words laced with powerful sentiments. Damar Hamlin got up and helped his team win the preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. Simone Biles came back to win the US Classics. And Chase Elliott will return with renewed determination next season. Rick Hendrick could not have put it better when he filled the racing fandom’s hearts with hope: “I know the fans want to see Chase win and Alex win. It’s coming. It will happen.”

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Written by:

Parika Singh


One take at a time

Parika Singh is a NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. Her combined love for writing and motorsports drew her to the world of sports journalism, where she fell in love with the thrill, unpredictability, and charisma of covering racers and race tracks. She especially looks out for the #5 Chevrolet of Kyle 'Wheelman' Larson, because of whom, she holds a soft spot for the 2021 season where he emerged as champion.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal