CONCORD, N.C. -- On Sunday, Kyle Larson helped Hendrick Motorsports make history when he took the checkered flag at Charlotte Motor Speedway to earn the organization its 269th win. The victory broke Petty Enterprises’ all-time wins record in the NASCAR Cup Series, an accolade that has stood for 61 years.
Team owner Rick Hendrick was at the track for the monumental win, which took place one week after Hendrick Motorsports tied the record at Circuit of The Americas. Hendrick was quick to thank Richard Petty and all of Hendrick Motorsports for helping him break the prestigious record.
“No. 1, Richard Petty is the king of NASCAR and he’s done so much for the sport,” Hendrick said. “This is so awesome. All I could think about was the first win. All the drivers – I want to thank every driver (who has) ever driven and won a race and the ones who didn’t. It’s unbelievable.”
Hendrick opened his team’s doors at the beginning of the 1984 season, securing his first win with Geoff Bodine in the No. 5 Chevy at Martinsville Speedway that year. That victory allowed Hendrick to remain in the sport and slowly build a successful organization. Now in its 37th season, Hendrick Motorsports has six wins on the year through just 15 races.
Larson, who was in control of the Charlotte 600 through most of the evening, won all three stages and led for 328 laps. In his first year with Hendrick Motorsports, the 28-year-old driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE now has two wins in 2021.
“It’s been better than I could have ever imagined,” Larson said. “For us to lead as many laps as we have this year, contend for as many wins as we have, and now to get our second win (at) a crown jewel event, it feels great.”
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Larson secured the 21st win for Hendrick Motorsports at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a track record. It also capped off a stellar race for the stable of Hendrick Motorsports cars. After Larson’s first-place finish, Chase Elliott placed second, William Byron crossed the finish line in fourth and Alex Bowman rounded out the top five with a fifth-place finish. Just two weeks earlier, the organization posted its first 1-2-3-4 finish, marking the first time in company history and fourth time in Cup Series history a four-team sweep was recorded.
While Larson said he's always had respect for Hendrick, joining the team in 2021 and taking over the flagship No. 5 Chevrolet has given him a profound sense of who Hendrick is on and off the track.
"He means a lot," Larson said of their relationship. "I think we all in this room have a lot of respect for Rick Hendrick and a lot of you probably don't even know him, just like myself really before this year. ... I've always had a lot of respect for him, and then now getting to see firsthand the level of respect that everybody has for him and how they all love to work for him, I think it just shows how great of a person that he is and how great of a leader, too."
Hendrick said he never thought his small race team would grow into the dominant force on the track it is today. The team owner said if someone told him in 1984 that he would take the all-time wins record from Petty, he simply wouldn’t have believed them.
“Incorrect. You’re absolutely crazy,” Hendrick said he would have responded. "That could never happen. No way that would ever happen.”
Hendrick Motorsports now holds several of the Cup Series’ biggest records, including the most championships (13), pole positions (228), top-five finishes (1,126), top-10 finishes (1,938) and laps led (72,338).