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NASCAR's 4 Decade Club is exclusive

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Driving in the top NASCAR league is tough. Stay at this level for years or even decades?

This is even more difficult.

Hendrick Motorsports' 40thTh The season's anniversary celebrations took place Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, site of the team's first victory. Four ruby ​​red cars (40 years is the ruby ​​red anniversary) accepted the green flag in front of many former Hendrick employees.

The show made a big deal out of the anniversary. It was probably talked about too much during the race, but it's a big deal.

In the Cup Series, teams come and go.

How hard is it to stay here? A look at the spring race in Martinsville just 10 years ago is instructive. 43 starters under 22 team owners took part in this race. Only eight of these teams fielded cars on Sunday. The teams that have since fallen by the wayside include winners and even a cup organization. Some of the owners still have cars in the Xfinity Series but have left the Cup Series.

But how many owners have reached the 40-year mark in the Cup Series? Hendrick finished sixth this year. Only four teams have completed 40 or more consecutive seasons on NASCAR's top circuit.

Let's take a closer look at the four-decade club and what these six owners have achieved.

Wood Brothers Racing: 71 years

Wins: 99 among 19 drivers
Championships: none
Run:
1,731 among 45 drivers
Most wins: David Pearson (43)
Last win:
Ryan Blaney 06/11/17

Small business: 60 years

Wins: 268 among drivers
Championships: 10 between 2 drivers (Lee Petty 3, Richard Petty 7)
Run:
2,817 among 52 drivers
Most wins: Richard Petty (198)
Last win:
John Andretti 04/18/99

Richard Childress Racing: 51 years

Wins: 116 among 11 drivers
Championships: 6 (Dale Earnhardt 6)
Run:
3,300 among 42 drivers
Most wins: Dale Earnhardt (67)
Last win:
Kyle Busch 6/4/23

Junie Donlavey Racing: 45 years

Wins: 1, Jody Ridley
Championships: none
Run:
863 among 64 drivers
Most wins: Jody Ridley (1)
Last win:
Jody Ridley 5/17/81

Team Penske: 41 years

Wins: 139 among 9 drivers
Championships: 4 among 3 drivers
Run:
2,442 among 20 drivers
Most wins: Rusty Wallace (37)
Last win:
Ryan Blaney 10/29/23

Hendrick Motorsports: 40 years

Wins: 305 among 20 drivers
Championships: 14 out of 5 drivers (Jeff Gordon 4, Terry Labonte 1, Jimmie Johnson 7, Chase Elliott 1, Kyle Larson 1)
Run:
4,737 among 52 drivers
Most wins: Jeff Gordon (93)
Last win:
William Byron 04/07/24

Donlavey is an outlier in that the team didn't experience much success during his tenure. The other teams are among NASCAR's elite and all have multiple wins and hundreds of races behind them.

The active teams have more races on their logbooks, largely because multi-car teams are common these days — Hendrick has four full-time Cup cars in 2024 and Penske has three, plus satellite Wood Brothers, for which it fields cars. Childress is currently working two full-time jobs, but in the past she has had three and four tours. Petty Enterprises had a higher winning percentage than Hendrick because they fielded cars in fewer races, even though Hendrick had more wins overall.

Hendrick also has the drivers with the most wins with 20, with only two holding more than half of the overall standings. Petty has nearly two-thirds of his family team's victories and Earnhardt has more than half of all RCR victories.

In 75 years of NASCAR racing, only these six have reached the four-decade mark. Roush Racing/Roush Fenway Racing/RFK Racing (37 years with Jack Roush) and Joe Gibbs Racing (33 years) are approaching that number.

The recipe for longevity?

In general, it's a win. With the exception of Donlavey, whose longevity is based more on desire than success, those ranked last have multiple wins with multiple riders and usually titles with at least one. A win doesn't guarantee many years at the top, but it's the biggest part of the recipe.

TV may have overhyped it on Sunday, but 40 years in the Cup Series is a big deal.


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