RICHMOND, Va. – Kyle Larson captured his first victory of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season at Richmond Raceway on Sunday afternoon. The win is the 20th for Larson in his Cup Series career and his 14th at Hendrick Motorsports. Most notably, the win comes on the late Ricky Hendrick’s birthday, for whom Larson’s No. 5 HendrickCars.com entry pays tribute to.
Although Larson had yet to break through this season, the Elk Grove, California, native has been a consistent threat at the front of the field. He entered the weekend leading the series in laps led and was second for most laps run in the top five.
Larson’s day began with a push towards the front. Although he settled for second in the opening stage, he overtook Byron under the green flag in stage two. While he fell back to eighth in the second stage, the No. 5 HendrickCars.com crew continued to work on the car in a race that saw several drivers come and go throughout the day.
PHOTOS: All of Kyle Larson's wins at Hendrick Motorsports
In the end, a late-race pit stop under the yellow flag saw Larson jump to the top spot off of pit road. With 21 laps to go, the driver of the No. 5 entry outlasted teammate Josh Berry to take home the checkered flag.
"It's really cool," Larson said after taking the checkered flag. "We've been close to winning a couple. William (Byron) has been extremely good this year. It was going to be between him, the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.), us, and the 20 (Christopher Bell) was really good. Things worked out. My pit crew had a great stop."
Larson led 93 laps on the day to take the victory. The win was also for the first for interim crew chief Kevin Meendering atop the pit box in the Cup Series. Meendering is filling in for the suspended Cliff Daniels.
Berry brought home a career-best Cup Series finish of second at Richmond in his fourth start with Hendrick Motorsports. He had spun out early in the race in an incident with Ryan Blaney, but a late-race strategy call put him at the front of the pack with fresh tires. While he was unable to pass Larson for the victory, Berry's runner-up finish ties the best result for the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro this season.
"Man this is really cool. I have to give all the credit to this NAPA team. Tom (Gray, interim crew chief), Alan (Gustafson, full-time crew chief) remotely, of course, and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports," Berry said after the race. "Man, what a huge day. You know, to come here and start in the back. No practice, no qualifying. Get spun out. Work through the field like that. Second place, it's pretty cool."
The one-two finish is the second of the 2023 season for Hendrick Motorsports. Last month's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway saw the organization sweep the top-three spots in the final running order.
Alex Bowman ended Sunday’s main event in the eighth spot. After starting from the lead, the No. 48 Ally Racing team fell back just outside of the top-five. While the 29-year-old driver did not have the pace of the leaders, he managed to earn stage points in both segments and earn yet another top-10 finish - his series-best sixth of the season. With the result, Bowman maintains his lead of the regular-season points standings by four markers over Ross Chastain.
After winning stage one, William Byron looked like he could very well earn his third victory of the season. However, contact on the second-to-last restart sent Byron into the turn two wall from the third position. Despite the damage, the driver of the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was able to make his way into the 24th spot by the end of the race. In addition to his fifth stage win of the season, he led a race-high 117 laps.
The victory was the organization's 12th at Richmond. Jimmie Johnson and Terry Labonte sit at the top of this list with three wins a piece while current vice chairman Jeff Gordon is next up with two victories. Bowman, Larson, Joe Nemechek, and Tim Richmond have each earned a single victory for the team.
Next weekend, the Cup Series heads to Bristol, Tennessee, for the lone dirt race of the season. Catch the Hendrick Motorsports quartet back in action on Sunday, April 9, at 7:00 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN Radio, and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).