Hendrick eyes all-time Cup Series win record

Hendrick eyes all-time Cup Series win record


CONCORD, N.C. — Those who’ve been around Hendrick Motorsports over the past few years know all about the record.

It’s impossible not to.

Car owner Rick Hendrick has made no secret to his employees about how badly he wants to surpass Petty Enterprises for the most Cup Series victories by an owner in NASCAR Cup Series history. That long-term goal can become a reality today when Hendrick goes for victory No. 269 in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“We’ve had 268 circled for so long, I don’t even know what 269 is going to be like yet,” said Chad Knaus, vice president of competition at Hendrick Motorsports. “We’re really excited to be right there, close to being able to get that. The 600 would be an awesome time for us to get it right here in Hendrick Motorsports’ backyard.”

Hendrick’s quest for history got off to a roaring start Saturday when Kyle Larson captured the pole for the 600, while teammates Chase Elliott and William Byron qualified third and fourth, respectively. Hendrick’s other driver, Alex Bowman, will start seventh.

All four Hendrick drivers already have won this year, including Elliott’s rain-shortened victory last week at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

“It’s an important thing to Mr. Hendrick, and he’s made that very apparent over the last couple of years,” Elliott said. “When your leader cares about something that much, we all care about it equally as much and we want to achieve that for him.”

Hendrick said last week: “The respect and admiration I have for Richard and Kyle [Petty], that whole family, it’s a big deal for me to be just mentioned with him.”

Knaus said he can’t wait to celebrate with his boss — whenever that next win comes.

“I’m a huge Rick Hendrick fan,” Knaus said. “He has been a metric to me since I was 21 years old and has really helped me along with my career. I’m just happy to be a part of it. I can’t wait to give him a big hug after we get it and we can go and hopefully get more.”

To reach the winner’s circle today, Hendrick will have to beat Martin Truex Jr., who has won the Coca-Cola 600 three times.

“This place here, we’ve found some things that work for us and we’ve been able to ride that horse for five, six years now,” Truex said. “It’s getting more challenging, the track is getting rougher, and the teams are all getting closer together setup-wise and what everybody knows about these cars these days. Things have really come together in a smaller box. It’s going to be tough.”

With 11 different winners in 14 races this season, there are just five available spots for NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Four of those will come via points or a win, with one spot reserved for the points leader, currently Denny Hamlin. Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are winless this season but would be the first two drivers in on points right now.

Harvick has had plenty of success at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with 3 victories, 9 top-five finishes and 19 top 10s in 38 career starts. He finished fifth in the Coca-Cola 600 last season.

The Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race of the season, which requires some extra preparation, according to Byron.

“That eating and hydrating is a little bit different because throughout the race you need more fluids, and you also need to eat at some point during the race; whether it’s like energy chews or stuff like that,” said Byron, who grew up in Charlotte.

Kyle Larson qualifies in pole position for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Kyle Larson qualifies in pole position for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Kyle Larson talks with his crew before qualifying in pole position for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Kyle Larson talks with his crew before qualifying in pole position for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Bubba Wallace puts his helmet on for his qualifying run for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Bubba Wallace puts his helmet on for his qualifying run for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Bubba Wallace waits for his qualifying run for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Bubba Wallace waits for his qualifying run for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Austin Dillon stands by his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Austin Dillon stands by his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. stands by his car before qualifying in second position for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. stands by his car before qualifying in second position for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

William Byron during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

William Byron during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Bubba Wallace waits for his qualifying run for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Bubba Wallace waits for his qualifying run for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Chase Elliott, left, and Bubba Wallace joke around before qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Chase Elliott, left, and Bubba Wallace joke around before qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)



2021-05-30 07:04:44

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