In the thrilling world of NASCAR playoffs, Hendrick Motorsports has once again proven its mettle and showcased its unwavering strength. Following the disappointment of two of its star drivers, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman, missing out on the 16-team playoffs, the formidable Hendrick organization left an indelible mark with Kyle Larson’s spectacular victory at the Southern 500, held at Darlington Raceway on September 3.

Larson, the reigning 2021 Cup Series champion, secured his spot in the round of 12, with his performance at Darlington setting the stage for what could be an incredible championship run. Regardless of what unfolds in the next two first-round races at Kansas and Bristol, Larson has made his mark. His teammate, William Byron, who entered the playoffs as the top seed, also held his own, finishing fourth at Darlington and keeping his playoff hopes alive.

Jeff Andrews, the President and General Manager of Hendrick Motorsports, couldn’t be happier with the team’s performance, stating, “A great way to kick off the playoffs for Hendrick Motorsports. I’m thrilled to see such stellar performance across our organization.”

NASCAR Dominance: Hendrick Motorsports Shines at Darlington Playoff Opener

In addition to Larson’s victory, Chase Elliott finished eighth at Darlington while contending for an owner’s championship—an achievement that holds great significance for team owner Rick Hendrick. Larson’s crew chief, Cliff Daniels, emphasized the remarkable synergy within the team, saying, “The way we all collaborate and how Mr. H keeps us on track, it’s an absolute joy.”

Should either Larson or Byron hoist the championship trophy at Phoenix in two months, it would mark the 15th title for Hendrick Motorsports, adding to their impressive legacy with three championships in the last four years. Larson’s victory at Darlington also marked a milestone for the team, as it was their 299th Cup Series win. With all four Hendrick drivers poised to achieve the coveted 300th win, we could witness this historic moment as early as the upcoming race at Kansas.

Larson acknowledged the significance of the milestone, stating, “I believe all four of us would love to be the one to achieve it. However, the 300-wins mark is truly monumental. Personally, I’d be just as thrilled to see William, Chase, or Alex secure win No. 300 for Rick as I would be to win it myself.”

Larson’s victory at Darlington was an impressive feat. Despite not having the fastest car and making several close calls with the track’s wall, Larson’s determination and well-timed moves kept him in contention. He took the lead from Tyler Reddick after a pit stop with 55 laps remaining and extended his lead after a final restart with 31 laps left, ultimately crossing the finish line ahead of playoff contenders Tyler Reddick, Chris Buescher, and his teammate William Byron.

While Hendrick drivers basked in their success, other multi-car playoff teams faced challenges. Denny Hamlin, who led an astounding 177 of the race’s 367 laps, encountered setbacks in the pits and a late-race accident, resulting in a 25th-place finish. Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr., who shared the top playoff seed with Byron, struggled throughout the race and finished in 18th place. Christopher Bell, another JGR playoff entry who started from the pole position, was involved in a late-race incident, concluding the race in 23rd place.

Chase Elliott, the 2020 Cup Series champion, stressed his unwavering commitment to competing for the title this season, even though he’s contending for an owner’s championship. He underlined, “We’re still racing for something.”

Alex Bowman, who missed races this season due to injury, was on track for a strong finish when he and Daniel Suarez collided about 50 laps from the finish while vying for position.

Jeff Andrews, the Hendrick Motorsports executive, saw the strong performances at Darlington as validation following the disappointment of Elliott and Bowman missing the playoffs. He acknowledged the adversity faced by the team, including injuries to key drivers, and highlighted the team’s tireless work ethic and steadfast belief in each other.

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“Tonight,” he concluded, “was where we expect to be as a company—in the forefront of NASCAR excellence.”