The “Hendrick express” keeps rolling along.
One week after giving Hendrick Motorsports its record-breaking 269th win in NASCAR’s premier division, Kyle Larson chipped in No. 270 following a tense finish Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.
But on the first overtime attempt, Larson absorbed pressure on the climb up to Turn 1 from teammate Chase Elliott. He then pulled away to earn his third victory of the season after sweeping both stages and leading a race-high 57 laps.
Hendrick drivers finished at least first and second for the fourth consecutive race. According to Racing Insights, it’s the second time that a Cup organization has pulled off that feat. The only other time it happened came in 1956 with Carl Kiekhaefer Racing.
“It was not easy – any road course is not easy, just trying to keep it on track is tough,” Larson told FS1. “Especially when you’ve got two of the best behind you (Elliott and Martin Truex Jr.) on the last restart. I felt like I did a good job the one before and stretched it out a little bit, then didn’t want to give it another try at it.
“[Elliott] kept the pressure on, Martin was strong too. But what a car … I thought I would be okay today, but I just didn’t know how I’d race. I don’t think any of us do with no practice, but our car was really good there and I can’t say enough about it.”
Elliott, who had won the most recent road race prior to Sunday at Circuit of the Americas, had to settle for runner-up but was still “pleased” for what he called his best run to date at Sonoma.
“Wish we could’ve got another spot, but we’ll try again,” he told FS1.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Larson
STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Larson
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Chip Ganassi Racing got top-10 finishes from Kurt Busch in sixth and Ross Chastain in seventh … Daniel Suarez (12th) and Bubba Wallace (14th) both recovered from early penalties to notch top 15 results.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: An apparent tire failure sent Ricky Stenhouse Jr. into the Turn 1 barrier on Lap 32. Stenhouse later returned, but heavy smoke from his car sent him back to the garage for good. … Brad Keselowski made pit road just before a Lap 72 caution for a stalled car. But instead of getting the lead when everyone else pitted, a penalty for a crew member being over the wall too soon sent him to the rear of the field. PRN later clarified that Keselowski’s right rear tire was sitting on the pit stall, not the wall, when he pitted; NASCAR judged that to be over the wall too soon and the penalty stood after review.
NOTABLE: William Byron was eliminated as part of an incident on Lap 77 that involved seven cars. It was not only his first DNF of the season, but his 35th-place finish is his first outside of the top 11 since the second race of the season (33rd, Daytona road course).
NEXT: NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway – Sun., June 13, 8 p.m. ET on FS1 (All-Star Open, 6 p.m. ET on FS1)