CONCORD, N.C. (WTVD) — As Kyle Larson crossed the finish line to win the Coca-Cola 600, Rick Hendrick thought of April 29, 1984.
When Geoff Bodine won the Sovran Bank 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Hendrick won for the first time as a NASCAR Cup Series owner.
Hendrick had no idea that he would become the winningest owner in NASCAR Cup Series history 37 years later. Larson’s dominant victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway created a new record for Hendrick Motorsports, passing Petty Enterprises with their 269th victory.
Hendrick said, “Unbelievable.” “I’m having trouble wrapping my head around it right now.”
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France remarked, “With over 40 years of excellence, Hendrick Motorsports has set the gold standard for race team performance.” “Rick Hendrick has already established himself as a NASCAR Hall of Famer, and now he adds another tremendous achievement to an already illustrious NASCAR career.
Hendrick expressed his gratitude for the record, while also honouring Richard Petty for his contributions to NASCAR.
Hendrick remarked, “Richard Petty is the king of NASCAR, and he has done so much for our sport.”
Larson broke the record while driving the No. 5 car, which was the same number as Bodine’s car some decades earlier, according to Hendrick.
Larson commented, “It feels amazing to be the man that helps Mr. H beat that record.”
Hendrick stated that it didn’t matter to him which of his four Cup drivers won on Sunday as long as one of them did.
And it appeared that all four of them had the opportunity.
Hendrick Motorsports had a strong night, with all four drivers finishing in the top five. Chase Elliott came in second, William Byron came in fourth, and Alex Bowman came in fifth.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch finished third.
It was also Hendrick Motorsports’ sixth victory in 16 races this season. This one didn’t even come close.
Larson, who joined Hendrick this season, won four stages and led 328 of 400 laps at Charlotte, putting an end to a six-year battle.
Larson’s previous best finish at Charlotte was sixth in 2016, and the Coca-Cola 600 was his lone top-10 result. Larson controlled for the most of the race, becoming the first driver to sweep every stage since Kyle Busch in 2018. Larson now has a series-high ten stage victories this year.
“As you can see by some of the moves he does, he has an unbelievable talent,” Hendrick remarked. “He also has a strong will to succeed and is extremely dedicated. He’s all about business.”
Even with around 100 laps to go, Busch seemed resigned to the fact that he wouldn’t be able to catch Larson.
When asked by Fox Sports analysts what he needed to do to catch the leader after the first three stages, Busch replied, “I’m going to have to wreck him — they’re too fast.”
Larson became only the third driver to win multiple races this season in a year of parity, with 11 drivers winning in the first 14 races. He also triumphed in Las Vegas.
Martin Truex Jr., a two-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600, was one of the favourites to win the race, but his chances were dashed when his left front tyre went fully flat with 60 laps to go, and his pit crew struggled to extract the tyre from the rim, therefore ending his chances of winning.
After COVID restrictions were eased roughly a week before the race, the event drew more than 50,000 spectators.
Tyson Fury, a two-time heavyweight champion, and Pitbull, a singer, were in attendance. The honorary pace car driver was Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, and the grand marshals were Jay Leno and Kevin Eubanks.
WHO’S HOT RIGHT NOW?
Hendrick has won six of the season’s 15 races. Hendrick Motorsports won the Coca-Cola 600 for the 12th time in his career, but it was the team’s first since Jimmie Johnson grabbed the checkered flag in 2014.
WHO DOESN’T CARE?
Denny Hamlin, who won seven races last season, is still looking for his first win of the year after 16 races. Hamlin hasn’t had much luck at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he hasn’t won a Cup Series race in 30 attempts. He came in eighth place.
With around 70 laps to go, Hamlin remarked on the radio, “I’m doing everything I can, but what I got isn’t good.”
COMING UP NEXT
Next Sunday, NASCAR returns to road racing with the Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway in California.