Kyle Larson’s Coca-Cola 600 Win Catapults Hendrick Motorsports Atop The All-Time NASCAR Cup Series Wins Listby Hunter Thomas May 31, 2021 1 comment
CONCORD, N.C. – Hendrick Motorsports surpassed Petty Enterprises as the winningest team in NASCAR’s highest level of competition after Kyle Larson dominated the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to capture the organization’s 269th NASCAR Cup Series victory.
Larson started from the pole, swept all four stages and led an incredible 327 of the 400 laps in the historical performance. Throughout the race, Larson had to fight off his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Chase Elliott and William Byron. In Stages 1 and 2, Larson, Elliott and Byron swept the top-three positions, and in Stage 3 and 4, the organization swept the top-two positions with Larson leading the way, followed by Byron in Stage 3 and Elliott in the final stage. At the end of the night, Larson won by an impressive 10.051 seconds as he captured his first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway and eighth in the series.
“It was not easy,” Larson said. “I felt like I had to fight off William (Byron) and Chase (Elliott) a lot. It kind of worked out there in that last run. The No. 43 (Erik Jones) had to pit and pulled out in front of me, and I just towed with him for a while and stretched my lead out. We had a good car there in that last run. Awesome! It feels great to be the guy to help Mr. Hendrick break that record, finally. This is awesome. We haven’t seen this many fans in forever.”
Hendrick Motorsports earned its first victory in the NASCAR Cup Series back in 1984 at Martinsville Speedway when Geoffrey Bodine piloted the No. 5 Chevrolet. Since then, the organization has earned seven championships with Jimmie Johnson, four with Jeff Gordon, one with Terry Labonte and last year’s title with Chase Elliott.
“Number one, Richard Petty is the king of NASCAR,” said Hendrick Motorsports team owner, Rick Hendrick. “He’s done so much for this sport. Man, this is so awesome. All I can think about was the first win and all the drivers. I want to thank every driver that’s ever driven, that won a race; and the ones that didn’t win. But it’s unbelievable. I can’t really get it in my brain right now, because I just thought – something’s going to happen, something’s going to happen. But man, what a good job they did tonight. I’m just looking forward to the rest of the year. I’m glad 269 is over. I’m glad it’s over.”
Gordon, who is in the NASCAR Hall of Fame earned 93 victories while competing for Hendrick. He competed throughout some of the organization’s most competitive season, but even he is impressed with the current team lineup. Just two weeks ago at Dover, Hendrick Motorsports became the first organization to have all of its drivers sweep the top-four finishing positions in a NASCAR Cup Series race.
“I’ve been a part of Hendrick Motorsports as a driver for all the years and have seen the dominance, but even I am just blown away by how strong this organization is through all four cars right now,” Gordon said. “Congratulations to Rick Hendrick, Hendrick Motorsports, and Kyle Larson, and also Cliff Daniels.”
Elliott finished second on Sunday night in the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. He led 22 laps throughout the race after starting in third. So far this season, Elliott has amassed seven top-five finishes, and he has finished inside of the top-10 in 60% of the races. Following Sunday’s performance, Elliott said that the organization as a whole is working well together, and it’s producing the winning results.
“I’m just happy for the boss (Mr. Rick Hendrick); happy for Kyle (Larson), Cliff (Daniels, crew chief), and everybody on the No. 5 team,” Elliott said. “They’ve been kicking ass since February and they deserve to win. Rightfully so. They did a great job tonight; ran a great race and made no mistakes and the best car won. I’m proud of Hendrick Motorsports. I feel like everybody, like I’ve been saying, is just pulling in the same direction and it’s really showing. I’m just proud of our company and excited as the No. 9 team, specifically, for more opportunities ahead, and to try and get a little better and see if we can’t get it dialed in.”
Kyle Busch blocked another Hendrick sweep as he finished third, just ahead of Byron and Alex Bowman. Austin Dillon finished sixth, followed by Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher, Tyler Reddick and Kevin Harvick.
Despite Larson’s dominance, there were 23 lead changes among 13 drivers.
The Coca-Cola 600 only saw 4 cautions, and only one was for an accident. Ryan Newman blew a right front tire and pounded the Turn 3 wall to bring out the caution on Lap 297.
The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, June 6 for the Toyota/Save Mart 350. The series was unable to compete at the California road course last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Live coverage of the race will broadcast on FS1 at 4 p.m. ET.
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