Hendrick Motorsports has officially surpassed Petty Enterprises for the most wins in NASCAR Cup Series history. Kyle Larson dominated Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, leading 311 of 400 laps and sweeping the four stages to secure the team’s 269th victory.
Larson won the pole in qualifying on Saturday ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Kurt Busch and B.J. McLeod were sent to the rear for unapproved adjustments.
Stages #1 and 2
Larson dominated the opening stage as Hendrick Motorsports team-mates Chase Elliott and William Byron followed.
The first stage ran completely green as Larson led all but eleven of the 100 laps. The exceptions came during the mid-segment pit stops under green following Larson making his stop on lap 49, with Byron, Brad Keselowski, Matt DiBenedetto, and Anthony Alfredo leading laps before it cycled back to Larson. Meanwhile, Ross Chastain exited the race with a broken oil pump valve.
Larson, Elliott, Byron, Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, Denny Hamlin, and Austin Dillon rounded out the top ten.
Stage #2 began with Larson leading Elliott. Elliott finally broke his team-mate’s on-track stranglehold on lap 132, leading until the next pit cycle commenced and he pitted on lap 149. Reddick and Christopher Bell spent time at the top until Larson returned to the spot. Prior to the stops, Chastain’s Chip Ganassi Racing partner Kurt Busch suffered an oil pump belt failure. David Starr, running his first Cup race of the year, was penalised for failing to meet minimum speed.
Although Busch was able to return to the track, his race ended in smoke when his engine expired on lap 172 and produced a caution. Bowman and Hamlin changed two tyres during the yellow to lead the field to green on the ensuing lap 178 restart. Hamlin took the lead two laps later before losing it to Elliott on lap 183.
Larson reclaimed the lead on lap 188. By lap 195, Hendrick drivers occupied the top four in a similar strong performance to Dover two weeks prior. Kyle Busch broke up the party when he took fourth from Bowman, but it was still a Hendrick 1–2–3 at the end of the stage with Larson ahead of Elliott and Byron. Reddick, Harvick, Bowman, Buescher, Hamlin, and Dillon also received stage points.
Stages #3 and 4
Larson, Elliott, and Byron resumed their battle as the race’s second half opened. On lap 212, Bell hit the wall and had to pit.
Byron overtook Larson for the lead on lap 231. Five laps later, Harivck pitted due to a loose wheel, while green-flag stops started approximately ten laps later. After Byron pitted on lap 247, Reddick, Dillon, and Alfredo enjoyed leading laps. The stops concluded with Larson back on top and he would lead until Ryan Newman‘s right-front tyre went down with five laps left in the stage and sent him into the wall.
Newman’s wreck ended the stage under yellow as Larson won his third consecutive stage. He was the second driver to win three stages at the 600 since Kyle Busch in 2018, the first year that the race was divided into four segments instead of the usual three. Byron, Busch, Elliott, Bowman, Reddick, Hamlin, Dillon, Bubba Wallace, and Harvick comprised the rest of the top ten.
A pair of Kyles in Larson and Busch led the grid to the start of the fourth and final stage. Despite a brief challenge by Busch, Larson kept the lead. On lap 320, Joey Logano pitted to address a flat tyre, a similar fate that befell Martin Truex Jr. twenty laps later.
Larson hit pit road on lap 347. Reddick and Blaney led a combined five laps before they pitted and Larson re-assumed first. As the lap counter crossed 372, he led 300 total laps in a Cup race for the first time; his previous best was 284 at Darlington in 2018, while his 269 at Atlanta in March were his most on a 1.5-mile track.
As Byron and Bowman faced challenges from Busch, Larson easily pulled away from Elliott and his Hendrick compatriots. By the end of the race, his advantage on runner-up Elliott had peaked at over ten seconds. Hendrick drivers occupied the top five with Busch—himself an ex-Hendrick member—preventing a top four HMS sweep as he finished third.
In addition to being Larson’s eighth career win and second of 2021, he notches his first at Charlotte. It is also perhaps fitting that the #5 car was responsible for Hendrick becoming the winningest team as the number holds sentimental value for the organisation, being its first car number with Geoff Bodine in 1984; the #5 has forty total wins.
|1||1||5||Kyle Larson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|2||3||9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|3||20||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||400||Running|
|4||4||24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|5||7||48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|6||6||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|7||14||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|8||27||17||Chris Buescher||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||400||Running|
|9||15||8||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|10||5||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||400||Running|
|11||13||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||400||Running|
|12||2||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|13||11||12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford||400||Running|
|14||18||23||Bubba Wallace||23XI Racing||Toyota||400||Running|
|15||9||99||Daniel Suárez||Trackhouse Racing Team||Chevrolet||398||Running|
|16||19||43||Erik Jones||Richard Petty Motorsports||Chevrolet||398||Running|
|17||16||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||398||Running|
|18||22||21||Matt DiBenedetto||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||398||Running|
|19||26||7||Corey LaJoie||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||398||Running|
|20||24||34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||398||Running|
|21||23||41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||397||Running|
|22||31||10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||397||Running|
|23||21||14||Chase Briscoe||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||397||Running|
|24||17||20||Christopher Bell||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||397||Running|
|25||29||38||Anthony Alfredo||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||397||Running|
|26||28||37||Ryan Preece||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||397||Running|
|27||25||6||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||396||Running|
|28||30||77||Justin Haley*||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||395||Running|
|29||8||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||391||Running|
|30||34||53||Cody Ware*||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet||389||Running|
|31||33||78||B.J. McLeod||Live Fast Motorsports||Ford||389||Running|
|32||32||00||Quin Houff||StarCom Racing||Chevrolet||389||Running|
|33||35||15||James Davison||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet||388||Running|
|34||36||51||Garrett Smithley*||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet||387||Running|
|35||37||52||Josh Bilicki||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||382||Running|
|36||38||66||David Starr*||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||369||Running|
|37||10||42||Ross Chastain||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||359||Running|
|38||12||1||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||139||Engine|
* – Ineligible for Cup points