CONCORD, N.C. – A lot of emotion is wrapped up in the date of April 2 for Hendrick Motorsports. Kyle Larson’s victory at Richmond Raceway made it even more special. 

Sunday would have been the 43rd birthday of Ricky Hendrick, who passed away in an aircraft accident in 2004. For the entire organization, the win carried extra significance with Larson driving the No. 5 Chevrolet based on Hendrick’s paint scheme from his time in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series. Vice chairman Jeff Gordon shared as much after the race. 

"I think days like today make you wonder what Ricky’s presence would do for us if he was here," Gordon said. "It’s nice when you do something special on his birthday. I was talking to Rick (Hendrick). He was emotional and excited and his presence is still here."

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Once the green flag waved at Richmond, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers and teams were ready to compete for the win. Through the first stage, it was clear 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Larson was going to be a contender. 

As stage two rolled around, the No. 5 Chevy dropped outside the top 10. Despite the loss of track position, interim crew chief Kevin Meendering worked to help improve the car as the race went on. The adjustments worked as Larson found himself inside the top five when the caution flag came out late in the race. Aided by a clutch pit stop from the No. 5 crew, Larson took control with 25 laps remaining. He held serve on two restarts to score his first win of 2023.  

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Shortly after the finish, FOX Sports broadcaster Mike Joy noted that Larson had taken the No. 5 car to victory lane on Hendrick’s birthday. For the entire organization, the moment was emotional. In his post-race interview, Larson shared how meaningful the victory was.

"Racing this No. 5 car has been special, but especially this paint scheme," Larson said. "It's all really special and kind of crazy kind of how things maybe work out from the power above."

Ricky Hendrick (middle) celebrates in victory lane with parents Linda and Rick Hendrick after his NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series win in 2001 at Kansas Speedway.

Contributing: Sam Shelley