The NASCAR Cup Series drivers took part in the fan-favorite Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 30, traveling 600 miles while honoring military members that gave their lives in the line of duty. Kyle Larson captured the checkered flag after a dominant performance and made history in the process. He helped Hendrick Motorsports break the all-time wins record.
The win at Charlotte, Larson’s second of the season, gave team owner Rick Hendrick his 269th NASCAR win and broke a tie with Richard Petty Enterprises. Chase Elliott tied Petty’s all-time record with his win at Circuit of the Americas and then Larson broke it after leading 327 of the 400 laps.
“I did not expect to be this good. I had hoped to. It’s still early in the year, but I don’t know, I knew I would be good,” Larson said about Hendrick Motorsports’ dominance during a press conference that Heavy attended. “Chase Elliott won the championship last year, and Jimmie [Johnson] had one of the fastest cars every race. They just kind of had some issues, and they didn’t get the finishes that they quite deserved. I had that in the back of my mind and thought, ‘well, if Jimmie had the fastest car, maybe we would still continue to have one of the fastest cars this year.'”
The Number on Larson’s Car Made the Win More Historic
When HMS announced that Larson would join the team ahead of the 2021 season, the organization also revealed a number change. The No. 88 previously driven by Alex Bowman would no longer head to the track each week. Bowman would make the leap to Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 while Larson would bring back the No. 5.
Reaching 269 wins was special for HMS, but the number change made the record more historic. When Hendrick formed his race team, he did so with the No. 5. Geoff Bodine got behind the wheel and secured the organization’s first-ever victory at Martinsville on Apr. 29, 1984.
27 years later, Larson the No. 5 back to Victory Lane two separate times and locked up a spot in the playoffs. He broke the all-time wins record with the iconic number on the side of the Chevrolet Camaro and continued an impressive first season with HMS.
Every HMS Driver Performed Extremely Well at Charlotte
While Larson reached Victory Lane for the second time, he was not the only HMS driver in the top-10. Elliott finished second, William Byron finished fourth, and Bowman took fifth. This race marked the second time in three weeks that all four HMS drivers were in the top-five, a list that also includes a dominant performance at Dover.
“Well, I’ve had a lot of really good drivers,” Hendrick told media members during a media availability that Heavy attended. “I’ve been really blessed if you look at everybody that’s won a race with us, from [Geoff] Bodine to Tim Richmond to Waltrip. You can look at Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson with seven championships. All of them have unique features.
“I think Kyle is going to win a lot of races,” Hendrick continued. “Chase is already a champion. I’m really excited about how William is running every single week and Alex, too. It’s like having a bunch of kids. You love them all the same. It’s just each one of them has different strengths and characteristics, but at the end of the day they work well together.”
The HMS drivers have combined for six wins in 15 weeks, including three straight races. The four cars have been the best in NASCAR and are all locked into the playoffs. Now they will move toward Sonoma, a track that fits into Elliott’s road course expertise.