The NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas came to an early end on Sunday, May 23, due to heavy rainfall. Chase Elliott led at the time, making him the ultimate winner. This outing marked win No. 800 for Chevrolet, which continued a unique streak.
Hendrick Motorsports, one of the strongest teams in NASCAR history, has helped Chevrolet reach several major milestones. The team registered the 400th, 500th, 600th, 700th, and 800th wins for the race car manufacturer. Terry Labonte scored the 400th win in 1994, Jeff Gordon posted the 500th in 2001, Kyle Busch took care of the 600th win in 2007, and Jimmie Johnson scored the 700th in 2012.
“So proud of Chase Elliott and his No. 9 Camaro team for persevering all race long and handling such challenging conditions to deliver a big win at the first race at Circuit of The Americas,” said Jim Campbell, vice president of Chevrolet Performance and Motorsports, per NASCAR. “Chase’s first win of the season is extra special as it was Hendrick Motorsports 268th Cup win and Chevrolet’s 800th Cup win.”
HMS Drivers Have Combined for 13 Cup Series Championships
When the 2020 season came to an end, Elliott was the driver holding the Bill France Cup. He became the latest Cup Series champion, and he helped showcase the talent of HMS drivers. His championship was the 13th in team history and the first since 2016.
Four drivers have ended the season as Cup Series champions while racing for HMS, but they have combined for 13 total titles. Gordon was the first to do so, winning in 1995. Labonte won a championship of his own in 1996 and then Gordon went back-to-back in 1997 and 1998. The Hall of Famer then won his fourth title in 2001.
Following Gordon’s final championship, Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush Racing each won two titles. However, Johnson brought HMS back to the Promised Land by winning the first five championships of his career (2006-10). Johnson won his sixth and seventh titles in 2013 and 2016. Now Elliott is back in the playoffs as he prepares to defend his first championship.
Elliott Helped Hendrick Motorsports Reach Another Major Milestone
While Elliott did not complete all 68 laps on Sunday due to the heavy rain in Austin, he managed to reach two major milestones. He won the 800th race for Chevrolet, and he also helped HMS tie a longstanding record. The race team reached 268 career wins, tying Richard Petty Enterprises for the most team wins in Cup Series history.
“Well, I really don’t know what to say other than Richard Petty and that organization have been the backbone of the sport,” team owner Rick Hendrick said during a press conference that Heavy attended. “Richard has done so much. It’s quite an honor to even be in the same series with him.”
The four HMS drivers — Elliott, Kyle Larson, William Byron, and Alex Bowman — have all won races during the 2021 season, and they have contended for top-five finishes consistently. Bowman has the second-most wins so far (two) while Larson has the most laps led (778). Byron, on the other hand, posted 11 consecutive top-10 finishes and raced his way to second in the points standings (499).
“Never thought we’d get here. But real proud of the guys,” Hendrick added. “They worked really hard. That’s been something we’ve had in our sights. Really happy for Chevrolet with 800 wins. It’s just been a great day. It’s been a great ride. The season has been so good to us. Everybody’s won a race now. We got all four locked into the Playoffs. Man, I don’t know. It would sure be nice to win another one in Charlotte. That would be the place to really break the record.”