September 1, 2009
By Allen Madding
Joseph Riddick “Ricky” Hendrick IV was born April 2, 1980 the son of legendary NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick. At the age of fifteen, he began competing in the Legends Series Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In his first year of competition, he recorded a pole and a win. He began his career as a stock car driver on the short tracks of Central North Carolina. He ran his first NASCAR Busch Series event in 1999 competing in the Myrtle Beach 250 at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina qualifying fifth and finishing 20th.
In 2000, he made 11 starts in the Busch Series posting one top five and one top ten finish. He survived a horrific crash in the Sam’s Club 200 at Rockingham, North Carolina sustaining a concussion and set out several races before returning to competition. That same year he made six starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series recording four top ten finishes driving his father’s No. 17 GMAC/Quaker State Chevrolet.
In 2001, Hendrick began competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series fulltime driving the Hendrick No. 17 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet. He finished second in the season opening Florida Dodge Dealers 250 at Daytona. In July, he won the Truck Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas and ended the season sixth in the points narrowly losing the rookie of the year title to Travis Kvapil.
In 2002, Hendrick began competing in the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series fulltime campaigning the No. 5 Hendrick’s GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet. He logged two top ten finishes, but was sidelined after a shoulder injury in a crash in the Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas. He required surgery and two months recuperation before he could return to competition. While he was sidelined, Ron Hornaday substituted for him. Hendrick returned to the wheel of the No. 5 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet in the Hardee’s 250 at Richmond. Following the Busch Series Mr. Good Cents 300 at Kansas in October, at the age of 22, Hendrick decided he was not up to his full potential. He elected to retire as a driver and follow his father’s career path as a car owner. He put David Green in the No. 5 for the remainder of the season.
Hendrick hired Brian Vickers to drive the No. 5 Busch Series car for the 2003 season. Together they clinched the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series. In 2004, Vickers moved to driving the No. 25 Hendricks NASCAR Nextel Cup Series entry and Ricky put Kyle Busch in the No. 5 Busch Series car. Beyond racing Ricky also owned Ricky Hendrick's Performance Honda, a motorcycle dealership.
Ricky Hendrick died October 24, 2004 at the age of 24 when the plane he was traveling in crashed as it attempted a landing at Blueridge Airport near Martinsville, VA.
In four years of competition in the NASCAR Busch Series, Hendrick recorded one top five and three top tens in 38 starts. In two years of competition in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, he charted one win, eight top fives, and 23 top tens in 30 starts.
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