The NASCAR Cup Series honored our fallen military members on Sunday night with the Coca-Cola 600. The 600 miles of remembrance saw each driver carry the name of a service member who died in battle on each car. The 15th and longest race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season was dominated by one driver throughout. Kyle Larson turned his NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 pole position into an unforgettable performance to earn his second win of the season. The No. 5 car is truly the story in this week’s NASCAR recap.
NASCAR Cup Series Recap | Kyle Larson Wins at Charlotte
Coca-Cola 600 Stage 1
Kyle Larson led the field to the green and the Coca-Cola 600 was officially underway. Kyle Busch made Ryan Blaney mad with a tight move he made to pass him early on. The Hendrick Motorsports trio of Larson, Chase Elliott and William Byron were in their own zip code to begin the race. Ross Chastain had an oil line belt break and luckily for him, his team found it during the first green flag pitstop.
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Brad Keselowski and Matt DiBenedetto both played the waiting game hoping to catch a caution. It ultimately never came and each was eventually forced to pit for tires and fuel. Then, Daniel Suarez cut a tire down with five to go in the stage and had to pit. Larson would lap half of the field on his way to winning Stage 1.
Coca-Cola 600 Stage 2
Larson would lead the field back to the green flag and continued to lead until about the 30-lap mark in the stage. Elliott managed to catch and pass his Hendrick Motorsports teammate to take over the point. Kurt Busch wound up having the same problem as his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Chastain, as he would have an oil belt break. Unlike the No. 42, Busch’s happened during a green flag run, but he was able to drive straight to the garage for repairs. Just like last week, he had to once again pull off one hell of a move to avoid collecting other cars in doing so.
Larson reclaimed the lead from Elliott after the green flag pit stops. Kurt Busch got the belt fixed but immediately blew his engine when he got back on track. Alex Bowman used a two-tire stop to get out to the lead. That would not last long though as Larson passed him and went on to win the second stage.
Coca-Cola 600 Stage 3
Larson led the field back to the green to begin the second half of the race. Christopher Bell slammed the wall hard and cut down a tire. Byron would eventually take the lead over from Larson, but just like in Stage 2, the No. 5 car took it right back after pit stops. Larson got the Stage 3 win after Ryan Newman pancaked the wall to bring out a caution. The stage would end under yellow.
Coca-Cola 600 Final Stage
Larson brought the field back to the restart and never looked back over the final 100 laps. He was gone from the drop of the green and dominated the entire Coca-Cola 600 final stage. Larson wound up winning the race by over ten whole seconds. He swept all four stages in the longest NASCAR Cup Series race of the year and earned Hendrick Motorsports their 269th all-time win. This put them past Petty Enterprises for most all-time wins by a team in NASCAR Cup Series history.
Final Coca-Cola 600 Thoughts
This was an exciting NASCAR race for the first three stages, but no one could stay with Kyle Larson in the last stage. The dominant performance and record-setting win for Hendrick Motorsports was a great way to end the 1100 total miles of racing that fans saw on Sunday. Between this NASCAR Cup Series crown jewel and an epic Indianapolis 500 earlier in the day, Sunday truly lived up to the ‘Greatest Day in Racing’ billing. I have heard that some fans were bored with the Coca-Cola 600 and I can see that. The Next Gen Cars should fix things starting next year.