CONCORD, N.C. – Hendrick Motorsports will be back in action in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Sonoma Raceway this weekend.
On Saturday, Kyle Larson will be racing in his home state at the California-based road course. In his career, the 30-year-old driver has earned 14 victories in the Xfinity Series, including his most recent triumph at Darlington Raceway (with Kaulig Racing). For Larson, returning to Sonoma this weekend will be a welcome return to his roots.
"I always love going back home and racing at Sonoma," Larson said. "I always get to see a lot of friends and family and race fans that grew up watching me race sprint cars around Northern California. I think all of us drivers look forward to Sonoma a lot, but me from just an hour-and-a-half away, it’s a special place.
"It’s kind of a flowy track. The tires wear out so you kind of manage your runs quite a bit. It’s got a lot of elevation change and I enjoy all that."
Kevin Meendering will be the crew chief for the 80-lap race at the 12-turn road course. He and Greg Ives are overseeing the Xfinity effort, but with Ives in France with the Garage 56 project, Meendering will call the shots at Sonoma. The Hendrick Motorsports support engineer was the crew chief for all four Xfinity races last year and guided Elliott Sadler to two runner-up finishes in the Xfinity Series standings in 2016 and 2017. He has three wins in the division, which all came with Sadler.
Earlier this year, Meendering won with Larson at the NASCAR Cup Series level at Richmond Raceway. Meendering was filling in for the suspended Cliff Daniels at the Virginia short track to earn his first points-paying win in the Cup Series. In the Xfinity Series last year, the Meendering-Larson duo earned two top-five results, highlighted by a runner-up finish at Road America, and an average finish of 3.5.
Announced in March, the organization is running four races in the No. 17 Chevrolet Camaro with sponsorship from HendrickCars.com. The first race came on March 25 at Circuit of The Americas, where William Byron finished second. Alex Bowman will drive the car on Aug. 19 at Watkins Glen International and Larson will be back behind the wheel for the Sept. 2 event at Darlington.
The No. 17 car number carries a rich history and special significance to organization. NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip drove it to nine Cup Series wins for the team from 1987 to 1990, including in the 1989 DAYTONA 500. The car number was also driven by Ricky Hendrick in various races, including in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series in 2000 and 2001. This year, the HendrickCars.com paint scheme will again be based on the No. 17 truck driven by Hendrick during his 2001 rookie season.
"A lot of significance with that number and paint scheme," Larson said. "All of us were so close to winning in it last year. Obviously, we would love to get that win. I look forward to running that car whenever it is my opportunity because it was such a fast race car and so much fun to drive.
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In its history, Hendrick Motorsports has one Xfinity Series championship and 26 wins in the series. Its five races in 2022 and 2023 saw the organization come close to getting back to victory lane in the division for the first time since Tony Stewart took home the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway in 2009. Those five events resulted in two poles, three runner-up finishes, four top-fives and 72 laps led.
Tune in to watch the Xfinity race at Sonoma on Saturday, June 10, at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).