Larson romps to yet another victory for Hendrick Motorsports

Jun 20, 2021, 6:51 AM | Updated: 7:30 pm

LEBANON, Tenn. (AP) — Kyle Larson won his fourth race in seven days then finally headed home to sleep in his own bed.

For a night, anyway.

The busiest driver in motorsports won again Sunday in the Cup debut at Nashville Superspeedway, where Larson drove to NASCAR’s victory lane for the fourth consecutive week.

Sandwiched in between his $1 million victory in the All-Star race at Texas last Sunday and his Cup-leading fourth victory of the season at Nashville were two dirt racing wins in Ohio worth $6,000 each to the winner. Next up for Larson: Brandon, South Dakota, for Monday and Tuesday night World of Outlaws races at Huset’s Speedway.

“All of the racing helps for everything I do. I win a Cup race and it helps me for dirt racing,” Larson said. “I think just racing a lot — I’m in racing situations more than anybody else in the world, really — but especially in Cup and I think that helps me stay sharp, it helps me be aggressive and understand what things are doing and tracks changing.

“You’re just getting into a rhythm and staying in a rhythm when none of these (Cup) guys are getting back in the car until Saturday. I think it’s a big advantage for me to be in a car multiple times a week.”

Larson led 264 of 300 laps at Nashville for his third consecutive win in a points race, fourth straight including the All-Star race. The Chevrolets from Hendrick Motorsports have won six consecutive weeks dating to Alex Bowman’s May 16 win at Dover.

“My goodness, we don’t have anything for those Chevrolets right now,” said Aric Almirola, the highest-finishing non-Chevrolet driver at fourth in a Ford. He started from the pole.

Nashville Superspeedway re-opened this weekend after a decade of dormancy to host its first ever Cup race. NASCAR’s top series last raced in the Nashville-area 37 years ago at the Fairgrounds, where Geoff Bodine won in the No. 5 Chevrolet for Rick Hendrick in his first season as a team owner.

Hendrick is the winningest organization in NASCAR with 271 wins. Larson gave his new boss the record 269th victory three points races ago at Charlotte.

Nashville is the 30th track a Hendrick car has won at and Larson did in his own No. 5 Chevrolet to bring Hendrick full circle on racing in Music City.

“To be here and have this many victories, to see that car back on track, it never gets old,” Hendrick said. “We’re happy to be here. I love this place. I love the crowd. It felt like old times. It felt like we were back years ago with the fans excited, shoulder to shoulder.”

Larson celebrated with burnouts along the entire frontstretch to put on a show for the sold-out crowd of 40,000. He then collected the traditional Gibson guitar gifted to the winner.

“I think fans can appreciate me because I do it in all different types of forms of racing, not just NASCAR. You don’t know what car I’m going to be in on what day of the week,” Larson said. “Because I’m a little bit different than your normal race car driver, I think that’s why fans so far seem to still cheer me on and like to see me winning.”

But his extracurricular racing will likely come to an end in September when the playoffs begin, Hendrick said.

“I want him happy. I don’t want him hurt,” Hendrick said. “He just eats, sleeps and drinks racing. He wants to win every race. I think about him getting tired. But if you run 600 miles, go win another race that night, win two more races… his stamina is unbelievable. But I’ve never seen anybody more intense that wants to race every minute of every day, and he wants to win.”

Ross Chastain finished second for Chip Ganassi Racing and Hendrick driver William Byron was third in a Chevrolet podium sweep.

Almirola and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five in one of the better days for the slumping organization. The finishes came the same day team co-owner Tony Stewart was at his first Cup race since the start of the pandemic.

Reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott, another Hendrick driver, finished 13th but was disqualified after four loose lug nuts were found on his car in post-race inspection.

TRAFFIC TROUBLE

Traffic issues leading into the speedway delayed the start the race by 10 minutes.

NASCAR asked television partner NBC Sports to push back its first Cup race of the season to allow for more fans to get seated before the race began. NBCSN had an NHL playoff game scheduled Sunday night and could only afford the 10-minute delay.

Nashville Superspeedway is 28 miles east of downtown Music City but fans filled the place for the first NASCAR races since the track closed in 2011. Nashville opened in 2001 and hosted 21 Xfinity Series races and 13 Truck Series events but closed when it didn’t get a Cup race.

Dover Motorsports owns the track and moved one of its weekends from its Delaware facility to Nashville to reopen the speedway and at last host a Cup race. NASCAR awarded the track a four-year sanctioning agreement.

Hendrick said he was among the many stuck in traffic trying to get into the race.

UP NEXT

NASCAR races both Saturday and Sunday next weekend in a doubleheader at Pocono Raceway. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin split the two races last season.

___

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving tips his cap to the crowd as he takes the court durin...
Associated Press

Arbitrator will referee Dr. J’s suit against brand developer

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge on Monday halted a lawsuit filed by basketball legend Julius Erving against a brand-development and marketing company, ruling that the dispute must go to arbitration. The lawsuit by the Hall of Fame player known as “Dr. J” stems from a 2016 agreement to sell a majority interest in […]
2 days ago
FILE - Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the second hole during the second round of the PGA Champ...
Associated Press

Tiger Woods withdraws from his tournament with foot injury

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Tiger Woods was out before he was officially back, withdrawing Monday from his Hero World Challenge with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The Hero World Challenge was to be the start of a December in golf ruled by Woods, who also has a made-for-television match next weekend, followed by the […]
2 days ago
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup ...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: World Cup highlights from Day 9

Highlights from the ninth day of the World Cup in Qatar on Monday. ___ AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
2 days ago
Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze watches as players warm up prior to an NCAA college football game ag...
Associated Press

Auburn hires Liberty’s Hugh Freeze, who’s coming back to SEC

Auburn is hiring Liberty coach Hugh Freeze to take over the football program, more than five years after his resignation from SEC Western Division rival Mississippi amid both personal and NCAA scandals. A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Monday that Freeze has signed a memorandum of understanding with the […]
2 days ago
A pitch invader runs is caught while running across the field with a rainbow flag during the World ...
Associated Press

Portugal advances to last 16, beats Uruguay 2-0 at World Cup

LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo wheeled away in celebration, acting as though he had scored once again at the World Cup. Not this time. Instead, it was Bruno Fernandes eventually credited with the goal that set up Portugal’s 2-0 win over Uruguay on Monday, advancing the team into the last 16. Fernandes curled in […]
2 days ago
FILE - Jackson State coach Deion Sanders gets his team's attention during the Southern Heritage Cla...
Associated Press

Deion Sanders says report of job offer from Colorado is true

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Deion Sanders said Monday that a report stating Colorado has offered him its head coaching job is true and he has also received interest from other schools. The Jackson State coach didn’t say whether he’s considering any of the opportunities, including trying to turn around the Buffaloes’ beleaguered program. Sanders didn’t […]
2 days ago
Larson romps to yet another victory for Hendrick Motorsports