began in 1972, driving for famous owner Junie
Donlavey in the #90 Ford. Both of his starts that
season came at Martinsville Speedway, the track being
just ten miles from Hensley's hometown of Ridgeway, VA.
Though an engine failure in his first start relegated
Hensley to a 33rd place finish, he completed all but
seven laps of the fall event, the Old Dominion 500, to
finish fifth. Ironically, this top five in only his
second start would end up being Hensley's best finish in
his 98 career Winston Cup Series races.
again for Donlavey in the 1973 and 1974 Virginia 500
events, coming home in seventh and sixth places,
respectively. For the 1974 Old Dominion 500, Hensley
drove the #02 Chevrolet owned by Russell Large,
finishing 19th. Beginning in 1975, Hensley drove the #63
Chevrolet for part-time owner Billy Moyer,
competing in both Martinsville races each year until
1977 and registering a top ten each season. This fall
race of '77, however, would be Hensley's last for
Return to the series
1981, Hensley returned to the Winston Cup Series,
driving in the fall Martinsville event for Cecil Gordon
in the #24 Buick and bringing home a seventh place
result. Hensley raced in three events the next year --
both Martinsville races, along with the September event
at Richmond -- in D. K. Ulrich's #40 Buick. That
same year, Hensley also competed in the inaugural Busch
Series season, competing in 11 events and recording four
top five finishes. Hensley spent the 1983 season out of
Cup and in the Busch Series, where in 29 starts, he
registered 16 top ten finishes.
the next eight seasons, Hensley competed on-and-off in
the Winston Cup Series and raced full-time in the Busch
ranks. Behind the wheel of the #00 Oldsmobile in 1985,
Hensley came home second in points, just 29 points
behind champion Jack Ingram, after a season with
three wins at Hickory, South Boston, and IRP. Hensley
again finished second in points in 1987 driving the #5
Advance Auto Parts Buick, starting and finishing first
in the season finale at Martinsville for his only win of
the season. Just four races later, Hensley won again at
Martinsville in the 1988 Miller Classic.
In 1989, Hensley
drove 18 races in six
different cars, recording a pole at Hickory but
finishing no better than sixth. However, he returned to
victory lane the next season driving the #25 Crown
Oldsmobile, winning at Nazareth Speedway; he followed
that in 1991 with a career-high three victories, winning
at Martinsville, Hickory, and Rougemont.
The 1989 season
also saw one of the more unusual occurrences in NASCAR
history, with Hensley at the center of it. The powerful
Hurricane Hugo, which battered the Carolinas on
September 21st and 22nd, left driver Dale Earnhardt
unable to make the trip to Martinsville for qualifying.
Filling in behind the wheel of the #3 Chevrolet was
Hensley, who took the pole; however, Earnhardt made it
to the track for the race, so Hensley was left to watch
the race from the pits.
Return to the Cup Series
in 1992, Hensley made a comeback in the Winston Cup
Series, driving for world-renowned owner Cale
Yarborough in the #66 TropArtic Ford. While
competing in just 22 of 29 races and finishing no better
than seventh, Hensley beat out several others, including
current ARCA driver Andy Belmont, for the Rookie
of the Year title.
For the next two
years, Hensley continued to race part-time in the Cup
Series for a variety of owners, including Ray DeWitt,
Alan Kulwicki, Larry McClure, and Richard Petty.
In just nine starts in the 1995 season, Hensley saw
coming home no higher than 30th place and recording five
DNFs. He also cut back on his competition in the Busch
Series, running just 13 events between 1992 and 1995 and
recording a couple of top five finishes.
Craftsman Truck Series
in 1995, Hensley began to compete in the newly-formed
Craftsman Truck Series, driving in his first two seasons
for owner Grier Lackey. It was in 1997, however,
than Hensley began a relationship
with Petty Enterprises, piloting the #43 Cummins Dodge
in the next three seasons. At age 52 in 1998, Hensley
found victory lane at Nashville and finished sixth in
the final points standings. The next year, he finished
first at Martinsville, recording what would be the last
win of his career.
out his career driving for Ed Rensi and Doc
MacDonald in 2000 and 2001, respectively.