Kyle Larson put on a show in primetime on Sunday as he streaked to a dominating victory in Sunday’s crown-jewel Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Larson led 327 of 400 laps, won three of four stages and beat runner-up Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott to the finish line by more than 10 seconds.
“Feels good,” Larson said after getting his first Cup win at the 1.5-mile CMS oval. “It was not easy. I felt like I had to fight off William (Byron, his teammate) and Chase (Elliott) a lot. We had a good car there on that last run, so awesome.”
The victory was the second of the season for Larson, who is in his first year with HMS after being let go by Chip Ganssi Racing last year after uttering a racial slur into a hot microphone in a televised e-race.
“It’s been better than I could have ever imagined,” Larson said of his debut season at Hendrick. “For us to lead as many laps as we have this year, contends for as many wins as we have (he’s finished second in three races) and now to get our second win. A crown-jewel event, too. It feels great.”
The three stage wins give him a series-leading nine on the season. His 327 laps led gave him 1,105 on the season, which also leads the series.
The victory gave the Hendrick team its 269th victory, breaking a tie with Richard Petty Motorsports for most in Cup history. HMS cars have now won six of 15 races in 2021.
“Feels great to be the guy to help Mr. H break that record finally,” Larson said.
“You know, No. 1, Richard Petty is the king of NASCAR,” team-owner Rick Hendrick said. “He’s done so much for this sport. But man, this is so awesome. I want to thank every driver who has driven and won a race and the ones who didn’t win.
“I can’t really get it in my brain right now because I thought something going to happen, something’s going to happen,” he said. “I’m just glad 269 is over.”
The race turned into another demonstration of power for HMS. Two weeks after making Cup history by going 1-2-3-4 at Dover, the team’s drivers went 1-2-4-5 on Sunday with Elliott’s runner up finish and William Byron and Alex Bowman topped only by third-place Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing.
“I was happy for the boss,” said Elliott, who finished second for the third time in 2021. “Happy for Kyle and Cliff (Daniels, Larson’s crew chief) and the 5 team. They’ve been kicking a– since February so they deserve to win.
“Proud of HMS. I feel like everybody is pulling in the same direction.”
Busch was proud to prevent another Hendrick sweep.
“We had nothing for the Hendrick cars,” Busch said. “So overall, really good night for us. I tried to break them (the Hendrick cars) up. I didn’t want them to run 1-2-3-4 again.”
Finishing sixth was Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing. Gibbs driver Denny Hamlin was seventh.
Martin Truex, Jr., a three-time winner in 2021 and a two-time 600 winner, was a heavy favorite to win on Sunday. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver started P8 but began going the wrong direction fairly quickly as he fell out of the top 10 and basically stayed there until late in the race when he blew a tire and hit the wall. He finished 29th.
The cars of Kurt Busch and BJ McLeod dropped to the rear of the field for the start of the race because of unapproved adjustments. Busch won the race in 2010.
The Series’ next race will be next weekend at the Sonoma Raceway road course in Northern California.
–Field Level Media
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