Wednesday June 16th, 2021 5:12PM

Kyle Larson dominates for Charlotte Cup victory

By Pete McCole
  Contact Editor

Kyle Larson led another dominating performance by Hendrick Motorsports with a command performance of his own, winning Sunday night’s 62nd running of the Coca- Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

After posting three straight second-place finishes, Larson finally closed the deal to secure his second victory of the season, and help push Hendrick Motorsports past Petty Enterprises as the winningest team in NASCAR history.

Larson’s teammate and last week’s winner Chase Elliott was second, followed by Kyle Busch. Hendrick Motorsports drivers William Byron and Alex Bowman rounded out the top five for a 1-2-4-5 finish for team owner Rick Hendrick.

Larson started on the pole and led seven times for 327 laps, sweeping all four stages of the event for his eighth-career NASCAR Cup Series victory and his first ever at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“It feels good. It was not easy,” said Larson. “I felt like I had to fight off William (Byron) and Chase (Elliott) a lot. My pit crew did awesome. We had awesome pit stops, especially on the green flag stops, too. That really allowed us to get the win tonight.

“For us to lead as many laps as we have this year and contend for as many wins as we have, and now to get our second win at a Crown Jewel event, too, it feels great. It feels great to be that guy who helped Mr. H break that record finally.”

Larson’s victory gives Hendrick Motorsports 269 NASCAR victories to surpass Petty Enterprises for the most wins all-time in the Cup series. Hendrick scored their first team victory on April 29, 1984 at Martinsville Speedway with driver Geoffrey Bodine driving the No. 5 car and – fittingly, it seems – Larson scored Hendrick’s 269th victory driving for the same No. 5 team that started it all for Rick Hendrick.

“It feels good. I can’t believe we got 269,” said Hendrick. “I have tremendous respect for the Petty family and what they’ve accomplished. Someone will probably break my record, so it’s just — records are made to be broken.

“It was kind of neat to — I want any one of them to win, but the first one was 5 and this one was the number 5. I just remember how close it was not to finish out the first year. 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.”

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France also praised Hendrick Motorsports accomplishment in a statement released by NASCAR following the race.

“I am proud to congratulate Rick Hendrick and all of Hendrick Motorsports on breaking the all-time wins record for a NASCAR Cup Series race team, long held by the legendary Petty Enterprises team,” France said in a statement. “With nearly 40 years of excellence, Hendrick Motorsports has set the gold standard for race team success. Rick Hendrick has already cemented his legacy as a NASCAR Hall of Famer, and now adds another incredible accomplishment to an exemplary NASCAR career.”

Kyle Busch seemed to be the only driver who was able to keep pace with the Hendrick stable, finishing sixth, fourth and third in the first three stages. But Kyle Busch spent most of the final fifty laps duking it out with Elliott and Byron, who kept the No. 18 Toyota bottled up while Larson opened up a sizable cushion.

Busch was finally able to work his way around Byron for third with eight laps to go, but was never able to get past Elliott to mount a challenge for the lead as Larson pulled away to a 10-second victory over Elliott – marking the third straight race where Hendrick drivers captured the top two positions.

“We had nothing for the Hendrick cars,” said Kyle Busch. “I tried to break them up. I didn’t want them to finish 1-2-3-4 again, so at least I could get in the middle of them. They (Hendrick Motorsports) were fast and they look good under the hood and they had good aero too.

“On a one to 10, if (Kyle) Larson was a 10 tonight, we’re about a seven so we’ve got some work to do.”

2017 Coca Cola 60 winner Austin Dillon was sixth, followed by Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher, Tyler Reddick and Kevin Harvick.

Hamlin retains the points lead by 76 points over Larson and Byron, who are tied for second.

NASCAR Cup Series
Charlotte Motor Speedway – Concord, NC
Coca-Cola 600 – May 30, 2021

1. (1) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400.
2. (3) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 400.
3. (20) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400.
4. (4) William Byron, Chevrolet, 400.
5. (7) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 400.
6. (6) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 400.
7. (14) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400.
8. (27) Chris Buescher, Ford, 400.
9. (15) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 400.
10. (5) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 400.
11. (13) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400.
12. (2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 400.
13. (11) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 400.
14. (18) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 400.
15. (9) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 398.
16. (19) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 398.
17. (16) Joey Logano, Ford, 398.
18. (22) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 398.
19. (26) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 398.
20. (24) Michael McDowell, Ford, 398.
21. (23) Cole Custer, Ford, 397.
22. (31) Aric Almirola, Ford, 397.
23. (21) Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 397.
24. (17) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 397.
25. (29) Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 397.
26. (28) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 397.
27. (25) Ryan Newman, Ford, 396.
28. (30) Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 395.
29. (8) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 391.
30. (34) Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 389.
31. (33) B.J. McLeod(i), Ford, 389.
32. (32) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 389.
33. (35) James Davison, Chevrolet, 388.
34. (36) Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 387.
35. (37) Josh Bilicki, Ford, 382.
36. (38) David Starr(i), Toyota, 369.
37. (10) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 359.
38. (12) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, Engine, 139.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 150.785 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 58 Mins, 45 Secs. Margin of Victory: 10.051 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 4 for 26 laps.

Lead Changes: 23 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders: K. Larson 1-47;W. Byron 48-49;B. Keselowski 50-55;M. DiBenedetto 56-57;A. Alfredo # 58;K. Larson 59-131;C. Elliott 132-148;T. Reddick 149;C. Bell 150-152;K. Larson 153-174;A. Bowman 175-179;D. Hamlin 180-182;C. Elliott 183-187;K. Larson 188-230;W. Byron 231-247;T. Reddick 248-249;A. Dillon 250;A. Alfredo # 251-252;K. Larson 253-305;K. Busch 306;K. Larson 307-346;T. Reddick 347-349;R. Blaney 350-351;K. Larson 352-400.

Leaders Summary: (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kyle Larson 7 times for 327 laps; Chase Elliott 2 times for 22 laps; William Byron 2 times for 19 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 6 laps; Tyler Reddick 3 times for 6 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 5 laps; Anthony Alfredo # 2 times for 3 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 3 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 3 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 2 laps; Matt DiBenedetto 1 time for 2 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 1 lap; Austin Dillon 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 5,9,24,4,3,18,19,8,47,48

Stage #2 Top Ten: 5,9,24,18,8,4,48,17,11,3

Stage #3 Top Ten: 5,24,18,9,48,8,11,3,23,4

Playoff Standings: 1. Martin Truex, Jr. – 486 (3 Wins); 2. Kyle Larson – 557 (2 Wins); 3. Alex Bowman – 405 (2 Wins); 4. William Byron – 557 (1 Win); 5. Chase Elliott – 541 (1 Win); 6. Joey Logano – 506 (1 Win); 7. Ryan Blaney – 482 (1 Win); 8. Kyle Busch – 476 (1 Win); 9. Brad Keselowski – 448 (1 Win); 10. Christopher Bell – 350 (1 Win); 11. Michael McDowell – 346 (1 Win); 12. Denny Hamlin – 633 (Points Leader); 13. Kevin Harvick – 468; 14. Austin Dillon – 407; 15. Tyler Reddick – 376; 16. Chris Buescher – 370.

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, NASCAR Cup
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