The magic number is 269, and four drivers have a vested interest in getting there.
Hendrick Motorsports’ next NASCAR Cup Series victory will be the organization’s 269th and will break a tie with Petty Enterprises for most all-time—a tie that has existed for one week, since reigning series champion Chase Elliott picked up the 268th win for HMS last Sunday at Circuit of The Americas.
Hendrick’s first opportunity for the record triumph comes Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Elliott is the most recent winner at the 1.5-mile intermediate track, having taken the checkered flag on May 28, 2020, four days after the running of the 2020 Coke 600.
With 93 and 83 victories, respectively, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have accounted for the lion’s share of Hendrick wins. With 12 triumphs, Elliott is tied for third on that list with two-time series champion Terry Labonte.
Kyle Larson, who joined the Hendrick roster this year, added one victory to the total in the fourth race of the season, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet would like nothing better than to make his second win for the organization the record-breaker for car owner Rick Hendrick.
“I know it’s going to be special to Mr. Hendrick, because every time I talk to him, he brings it up,” Larson said. “Now that we’re really close to it, we can all taste it. One more win and he breaks it, and I hope I’m the guy that can do it.
“I’m happy that I’m one of the drivers that contributed to his record. He’s had a long career of success and a lot of great drivers, and it’s just an amazing accomplishment.”
Teammate William Byron, a Charlotte native, is equally ardent in his desire to achieve the milestone win in NASCAR’s longest race. Byron picked up his second career victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March. That victory started a streak of 11 straight to-10 finishes that ended last Sunday with an 11th-place run at COTA.
“It would mean a lot to be the driver who breaks the all-time Cup Series win record for Hendrick Motorsports, especially if it happened at Charlotte,” Byron said. “Not only is this race huge for me, being my hometown, but it’s really where I became a fan of Hendrick Motorsports.
“I used to watch Jeff and Jimmie be so successful at Charlotte. To then be able to get win No. 269 would be historic for everyone involved, but just a whole extra meaning at my hometown track. Charlotte is what gave me my love of racing and Hendrick Motorsports.”
Alex Bowman, one of two multiple winners in the series this year, is the fourth Hendrick driver trying to achieve the record, but all four will have to contend with defending race winner Brad Keselowski and three-time Charlotte winners Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.
Truex claimed all three of his Charlotte victories after Harvick got his most recent in his 2014 championship season. In 2016, Truex set a new standard for domination, leading 588 of 600 miles—a NASCAR record for a Cup race—in winning the Coke 600 for the first time.
Note: Busch pole qualifying for the Coke 600 is scheduled for Saturday at 11:05 a.m. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, qualifying has been eliminated at most tracks this season, with starting order set by metrics.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!