Deja vu? Larson hopes Coca-Cola 600 can ignite run to title

May 26, 2022, 8:00 PM | Updated: May 27, 2022, 8:04 am
Kyle Larson (5) sits in pit row after crashing in the NASCAR All-Star auto race at Texas Motor Spee...

Kyle Larson (5) sits in pit row after crashing in the NASCAR All-Star auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday, May 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Randy Holt)

(AP Photo/Randy Holt)

              Kevin Harvick, center, visits his crew along pit road before practice for a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, May 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
              Kyle Larson (5) limps into pit row after crashing in Turn 4 during the NASCAR All-Star auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday, May 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Randy Holt)
              Kyle Larson (5) sits in pit row after crashing in the NASCAR All-Star auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday, May 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Randy Holt)
              Ryan Blaney (12), Austin Cindric (2) and Joey Logano (22) take the green flag for the final restart of the NASCAR All-Star auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday, May 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Larry Papke)
              Kyle Larson stands in pit row during qualifying for the NASCAR All-Star Race auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
              Denny Hamlin (11) attempts to pass Austin Dillon (3) during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 8, 2022, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Larson is hoping a return to victory lane Sunday at the Coca-Cola 600 might propel him to a second straight NASCAR Cup Series championship.

In other words, he’s hoping history will repeat itself.

Larson has just one win this season — three months ago at California.

That puts Larson in a strangely similar situation to last year, when he arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway for NASCAR’s longest and most grueling race with just one victory through 14 races.

His 2021 season turned at Charlotte.

Larson dominated the Coca-Cola 600 by leading 327 of 400 laps in Hendrick Motorsports’ 269th career victory — pushing HMS past Petty Enterprises for the record.

The victory invigorated Larson and his No. 5 Chevrolet team. The group won three straight Cup races and the All-Star race to gain the needed confidence and momentum for its title run. Larson wound up winning 10 races in all and ultimately his first Cup title.

“That was so cool to get Mr. (Rick) Hendrick that historic win,” Larson said of last year’s win at the Coca-Cola 600. “It wasn’t spoken about, but I think every team wanted to deliver that win for him and we were fortunate enough to be the ones who did. Hopefully, we can have the same type of performance this weekend.”

But repeating at the Coca-Cola 600 is not easy. It hasn’t been done since Jimmie Johnson won three straight from 2003 to 2005.

NASCAR’s longest race already had plenty of pitfalls to begin with — tire wear, attrition and the change in track temperature from day to night — and the new Next Gen car only adds more intrigue. As is, there are concerns if the left rear tires can handle the load of such a long race.

Larson has as good of a chance as anyone to win. Fan Duel Sportsbook has him listed as the race favorite at 5-1.

He has dotted the leaderboard all year, finishing fourth at Bristol and Talladega, and second at Las Vegas and Kansas. He has six top-five finishes in all, but is ninth in the point standings.

“Track position will be important, so a good qualifying session on Saturday helps a lot for Sunday,” Larson said.


Maybe it has something to do with that Dale Earnhardt legacy, but Austin Dillon and the black No. 3 Chevy have always run well at the Coca-Cola 600.

Dillon, who won the race in 2017, has finished in the top 10 three straight years.

“I don’t know what it is about Charlotte Motor Speedway. I’ve always had success there,” Dillon said. “I enjoy the track. I understand what it takes to be fast there in a race car and I have a feel for it. Obviously, I won my first Cup race at Charlotte, so I definitely circle it every year as a place where we go and compete well at.”


Kevin Harvick is currently in the midst of the second-longest winless streak of his career at 56 races. His longest streak of races in his Cup career without a win was 115 races from 2007 to 2010.

Harvick’s last win was at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 19, 2020.

Before his current winless streak, he went 11 straight seasons (2010 to 2020) with at least one win. Charlotte is a 1.5-mile track and Harvick has struggled on superspeedways, finishing 12th at Las Vegas, 21st at Atlanta and 15th at Kansas.


Ryan Blaney is coming off a bizarre win at the All-Star Race last week which involved an issue with his window net.

Blaney said he has decided to keep the net and wants to hang it somewhere special.

“They said they can get it for me, so I think I will save that one,” Blaney said. “There is a neat story behind it. I am looking forward to getting that and I think I have a decent spot picked out for it right now. Maybe it will move around throughout the years. I am excited to keep that thing.”


After race favorite Larson, FanDuel Sportsbook gives Kyle Busch (11-2), Chase Elliott (6-1) and Denny Hamlin (19-2) the best odds of winning one of NASCAR’s crown jewel races.


More AP auto racing: and

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


Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards dribbles towards the basket against Denver Nuggets cen...
Associated Press

Timberwolves cruise to 128-98 win against Jokic-less Nuggets

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — D’Angelo Russell had 14 of his 18 points in the first quarter and added 10 assists, Anthony Edwards scored 20 and the Minnesota Timberwolves cruised to a 128-98 win Sunday night against the Denver Nuggets, who were missing two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and three other starters on the second night of a […]
19 hours ago
New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) shoots against Sacramento Kings guard Davion Mitchell (1...
Associated Press

Murphy scores season-high 30, Pelicans top Kings 136-104

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Trey Murphy III highlighted his season-high 30-point performance with six 3-pointers — a couple from well behind the arc — and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame the absence of several starters to beat the Sacramento Kings 136-104 on Sunday night. CJ McCollum scored 24 points for the Pelicans, who shot 57.1% […]
19 hours ago
Philadelphia 76ers guard Shake Milton (18) drives against New York Knicks guard Quentin Grimes (6) ...
Associated Press

Knicks rally from 21 points down, beat 76ers 108-97

NEW YORK (AP) — Julius Randle had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, Jalen Brunson scored 21 points and the New York Knicks overcame an early 21-point deficit to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 108-97 on Sunday night. Evan Fournier came off the bench to add 17 points for the Knicks, who were playing a […]
19 hours ago
Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) drives against Memphis Grizzlies forward David Roddy (27...
Associated Press

Siakam, Raptors rally past Grizzlies 106-103 as Morant sits

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Pascal Siakam scored 19 points, including a pair of free throws with 9 seconds left, and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 106-103 on Sunday. Jaren Jackson Jr. missed a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left that would have tied the game for the Grizzlies, […]
19 hours ago
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro (35) shoots over Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield (24) duri...
Associated Press

Garland leads hot-shooting Cavs to 122-103 win over Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Darius Garland scored 24 points, Isaac Okoro added 20 and the Cleveland Cavaliers made 15 3-pointers Sunday in a 122-103 rout of the Indiana Pacers. All five starters scored in double figures for the Cavaliers, who shot 52.3% percent from the field, including 15 of 37 (40.5%) from long range, to complement […]
19 hours ago
NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) speaks to reporters ahead of practice sessions before a ...
Associated Press

Kevin Harvick to join Fox both as NASCAR analyst in 2024

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kevin Harvick won’t spend a single day in retirement when his NASCAR driving days are over: Fox said Sunday it has hired Harvick for its broadcast booth next season. Harvick announced last month that he will retire from NASCAR competition at the end of the 2023 season. He will then transition […]
19 hours ago
Deja vu? Larson hopes Coca-Cola 600 can ignite run to title