CONCORD, N.C. -- After a thrilling night of racing under the lights, Kyle Larson took home his sixth points-paying win for Hendrick Motorsports in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Larson, who was already locked into the Round of 12 prior to Saturday night’s playoff race, led seven different times for a combined 175 laps in the No. 5 Valvoline Chevy and notched another stage win at the .533-mile Tennessee track before winning the race. His on-track success at Bristol gave the No. 5 team the playoff points lead to start the Round of 12, 30 markers ahead of the second-place driver.
“Getting a playoff win is always good,” Larson said. “To get a playoff win, or just get a win here at Bristol, has always been tough to do. I haven’t been able to do it until tonight. It feels great. It’s good to win a playoff race.”
With the No. 5 team’s victorious night, Hendrick Motorsports continues to lead all teams with 12 wins in 2021. Larson’s incredible feat made him as the seventh driver in the organization’s history to capture a checkered flag at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The win at "The Last Great Colosseum" for the No. 5 team also marked the first playoff win for crew chief Cliff Daniels, who led the team’s impressive run thus far while making his first postseason appearance atop the pit box. While the team was out front for most of the evening, Daniels made the right calls to get Larson a perfectly balanced car to be aggressive at the short track.
“It was a great day all around for our team,” Daniels said. “It’s a long race here at Bristol, and you’ve got to be there for 500 laps. To win here at Bristol under the lights in such a tough duel that it was … it means a lot to me, and it means a lot to the team.
“We’ve still got our work cut out for us to keep going in the playoffs, but I think we’re in a pretty good spot.”
As Larson and Daniels continue their career-best season together in their first year on the No. 5 team, Larson applauded his crew chief and the effort he puts into getting the team ready week in and week out.
“(Cliff is) just a great team leader, a great crew chief,” Larson said. “He’s amazing at communicating, keeping me calm throughout the race and just keeping my head in it. It’s been so much fun working with this No. 5 team all year long and especially Cliff. We click really well together and we’re a good match.”
Larson knows that the Cup Series playoffs brings new challenges to overcome and unforeseen chaos with each new round and each individual track. He and the No. 5 team will return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept 26, the site of his first win for Hendrick Motorsports that he captured earlier this year.
“Just treating every race like a new one and kind of forgetting about the last one,” Larson said. “You’re using that momentum, really. … We (will) just try to regroup and reset to start these next three races with a new goal in mind of advancing through the Round of 12.”