In 2022, Hendrick Motorsports fielded a NASCAR Xfinity Series car for the first time since 2009. After a solid four-race campaign, the team will bring back the programme for another four-start effort in 2023.
“Right now, we are committed to running four races in 2023,” said team president Jeff Andrews. “We are defining what those are right now. We want to win a Xfinity race in 2023.”
Hendrick competed in the Xfinity Series from the team’s inaugural season in 1984 until 1990 and again for much of the 2000s, winning the 2003 championship with Brian Vickers. However, the division was closed after 2009 as JR Motorsports—co-owned by then-Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and HMS owner Rick Hendrick—effectively serves as HMS’ development team.
After a decade away, HMS reformed the Xfinity team in 2022 by fielding the #17 for their Cup Series drivers Alex Bowman, William Byron, and Kyle Larson. Larson, then the reigning Cup champion, won the pole at Road America in the #17’s début before being defeated by eventual Xfinity champ Ty Gibbs on a last-lap pass. Bowman scored a runner-up finish of his own at Indianapolis. Byron claimed the Watkins Glen pole but placed twenty-finish after spinning on a late restart while battling Gibbs; ironically, Larson took advantage of the incident to win in JRM’s #88. Larson returned to the car for its first oval race at Darlington, where he engaged in a late battle with Sheldon Creed and JRM’s Noah Gragson that the latter won.
The team did not announce a specific schedule or if the #17 will remain the car’s number. The number was used by Hendrick’s late son Ricky during his driving career.
HMS will be busy in 2023 as the aforementioned trio and Chase Elliott return for the Cup season. In addition to the Xfinity programme, the team is preparing to run a modified Next Gen Cup car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
“I think it is an amazing opportunity not only for Hendrick Motorsports but for the sport of NASCAR to showcase the level of technology and the quality of the race cars,” Andrews added about the Le Mans entry. “The mechanics and the drivers that are in this business are some of the best in the world. For us to have the opportunity to go over there and be on a global, worldwide stage in France in June is just a tremendous opportunity not just for Hendrick Motorsports but for NASCAR.”