Kyle Larson Scores Dominant Coca-Cola 600 Win

At last, Kyle Larson caps off a dominant performance by winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

At last, Kyle Larson caps off a dominant performance by winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

Undoubtedly, Kyle Larson entered Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte as one of the most consistent NASCAR Cup Series racers. Indeed, Larson, who logged three consecutive runner up results, started from the pole in Sunday’s 600 miler.

In contrast with Darlington, Dover and COTA, Kyle Larson and his No. 5 MetroTech Chevrolet team nailed a nearly flawless race at Charlotte. All things considered, despite a Sunday night domination by Larson, the 600 produced historical moments.

Once Larson led the field in the opening 47 laps, primarily save for pit stops, the 27-year-old Elk Grove, Calif. seemed virtually untouchable. Certainly, other than 73 combined laps led by 12 different drivers, Larson backed up his pole by leading 327 laps.

More importantly, Larson earned his second win of the 2021 season with his first Coca-Cola 600 triumph at Charlotte. As a result, Larson’s victory resulted in Hendrick Motorsports overtaking Petty Enterprises as the all-time winningest team in Cup.

To say the least, Larson’s dominant performance, while looking rather simple, was not without some hard work throughout the 600.

This time, Kyle Larson enjoys a dominant win at Charlotte. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

This time, Kyle Larson enjoys a dominant win at Charlotte. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

“Yeah, it feels good,” Larson said post-race to FOX NASCAR’s Jamie Little. “It was not easy. I felt like I had to fight off William (Byron) and Chase (Elliott) a lot. It kind of worked out there in that last run.

“It feels great to be the guy to help Mr. Hendrick break that record, finally. This is awesome. We haven’t seen this many fans in forever. Thanks to all you guys for coming out. I hope we put on a good show. Thanks to Metro Tech, Chevrolet, HendrickCars.com and everybody who allows me to drive this No. 5 car. And thanks to my No. 5 team tonight, too. They were great tonight. My pit crew did awesome.”

Naturally, Larson’s pit crew consistently won the race off pit road in NASCAR’s longest race of the year. Indeed, great pit stops along with Larson’s excellence with pit road entry and exit paid dividends in Sunday night’s race.

Nonetheless, Larson’s most formidable competition came from Hendrick teammate Chase Elliott. While Larson’s No. 5 car had that patented long run speed, Elliott closed the gap at times in the race’s first three stages.

Whenever Larson faced a decent challenge, he simply stepped it up. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

Whenever Larson faced a decent challenge, he simply stepped it up. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

In particular, Elliott passed Larson for the lead on lap 132. Elliott relinquished the lead during a round of green flag pit stops around lap 148.

Otherwise, Larson retook the lead on lap 153 before a lap 174 caution for fluid on the track. Meanwhile, Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano gained track position by pitting only for two fresh tires. On the contrary, Larson, who dropped to fourth spot, opted for four fresh tires.

Immediately, Elliott and Larson drove past Bowman, Hamlin and Logano for a for a five lap battle. Notwithstanding Elliott’s quick pace, Larson regained the lead on lap 188.

All in all, save for pit stop cycles, Larson would not be denied his much awaited second trip into victory lane. Apart from Ryan Newman’s turn 3 accident which concluded stage three’s green flag run on lap 297, Larson and the No. 5 team delivered on a nearly flawless night.

Podium Reflections

Even more, Hendrick Motorsports closes Motorsports May quite nicely even with COTA winner Elliott placing second.

Following a win at COTA, Elliott netted his second runner up in the Coca-Cola 600. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

Following a win at COTA, Elliott netted his second runner up in the Coca-Cola 600. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

“I’m just happy for the boss (Mr. Rick Hendrick),” Elliott said in a Team Chevy press release. Happy for Kyle (Larson), Cliff (Daniels, crew chief), and everybody on the No. 5 team. They’ve been kicking ass since February and they deserve to win. Rightfully so.

“They did a great job tonight. Ran a great race and made no mistakes. And the best car won. I’m proud of Hendrick Motorsports.”

Although Kyle Busch scooted past William Byron for the final podium spot, the 23-year-old racer returned to his consistent form.

“It was hard racing,” Byron observed. “I was trying to get second there and cost myself third. With this package, you just have to get the side draft at the perfect spot. I feel like we just missed where that was. We just didn’t have quite enough.

“Congrats to the No. 5 (Kyle Larson, race winner) guys. They were lights out. We’ll go to work and try to get that.”

Likewise, Alex Bowman, who placed fifth, reflected on Hendrick Motorsports’ incredible achievement.

In the end, Bowman reflected on a great night for Hendrick. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

In the end, Bowman reflected on a great night for Hendrick. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

“Hats off to Greg (Ives, crew chief) and the Ally 48 team on making really good adjustments to get us where we needed to be and get us in the top five,” Bowman said per a Team Chevy press release. “So cool for Hendrick Motorsports to be the all-time wins leader now. Our Ally Camaro was a handful all night, but glad to get a top-five out of it.

“It’s really cool to be a small part of it. Four of those (wins) were from us, so that’s pretty neat and pretty special. We want to add a lot more to that list, but it’s cool to be a small part of it.”

Following his dominant Sunday night victory, Larson reflected on a conversation with an on track friend.

In grand fashion, Larson celebrates a momentous victory with car owner Rick Hendrick. (Photo: Michael Whenever Larson faced a decent challenge, he simply stepped it up. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

In grand fashion, Larson celebrates a momentous victory with car owner Rick Hendrick. (Photo: Michael Guariglia/The Podium Finish)

“When I got to talking to Ricky Stenhouse last year, I was like I think I’m going to end up in the No. 5 or the Hendrick cars,” Larson recalled. “And he was like, you’re going to be really good in that thing. And I was like, I don’t know. But it’s been better than I could have ever imagined.

“For us to lead as many laps as we have this year and contend for as many wins as we have, and now to get our second win at a crown jewel event, too. It feels great. I’m just very lucky that Mr. Hendrick was able to put together a deal for me. It’s just awesome. I’m living a dream, for sure.”

Ultimately, Larson’s Coca-Cola 600 win at Charlotte was not a dream but reality. In addition, Larson, scored another victory for the No. 5 car, the same car number as Geoffrey Bodine in Hendrick’s first win at Martinsville.

Furthermore, Larson tallied 70 points, the maximum attainable points in the Coca-Cola 600. Now, Larson leads the Cup series in laps led (1,105) and moves up to second in the points and projected Playoff standings.

Surely, Hendrick Motorsports’ historical night resulted in strong results within the top-five, a testament to another textbook evening at Charlotte.

Top 10 finishers (Stage 1)

Larson-Elliott-Byron-Harvick-Austin Dillon/Kyle Busch-Truex-Reddick-Stenhouse-Bowman

Top 10 finishers (Stage 2)

Larson-Elliott-Byron-Kyle Busch-Reddick/Harvick-Bowman-Buescher-Hamlin-Austin Dillon

Top 10 finishers (Stage 3)

Larson-Byron-Kyle Busch-Elliott-Bowman/Reddick-Hamlin-Austin Dillon-Wallace-Harvick

Top-10 finishers

Larson-Elliott-Kyle Busch-Byron-Bowman/Austin Dillon-Hamlin-Buescher-Reddick-Harvick

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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