Larson wins again as Hendrick continues month of dominance

Associated Press
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Sonoma, Calif. — Kyle Larson first visited Sonoma Raceway as a young kid dressed head-to-toe in Jeff Gordon gear watching NASCAR practice from the hillside on a Saturday afternoon.

Now he's a Cup winner at what is considered the Elk Grove racer's home track, but his victory lane celebration Sunday was a disaster.

Kyle Larson celebrates his victory in a NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, June 6, 2021, at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Larson tried to recreate a 2014 photo of himself spitting wine into the air following a lower level win, but it was far windier after this big leagues victory and when Larson splayed his mouthful from the oversized chalice, the red wine splashed all over the new track president.

“I blew it,” Larson said. “It was way windy and I feel super bad.”

It was the only thing Larson did wrong all day.

Larson beat teammate Chase Elliott in overtime to win his second consecutive race, third of the season, and help Hendrick Motorsports continue its month of dominance.

Hendrick drivers have won four straight races dating to Alex Bowman's May 16 victory. Larson's win a week ago in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway made Rick Hendrick the winningest owner in NASCAR history.

“Obviously, last weekend was huge for our company, the history and heritage of our company. We’re obviously very proud to do that for Mr. Hendrick in our backyard," said Jeff Andrews, executive vice president and general manager at HMS. “Now we come out here to Sonoma and we get one for Kyle in his backyard.”

The Hendrick group is on such a roll that maybe only two-time defending winner Martin Truex Jr. was considered a real threat to stop the streak Sunday, when NASCAR returned to California for the first time since 2019 because of the pandemic.

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But reigning Cup champion Elliott was the favorite. He is, after all, the current king of the road with six victories on road courses including a victory over Larson two weeks ago in the rain-shortened debut at Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

Instead the win went to Larson. And even though it was in overtime, it wasn't close as Elliott remained winless at Sonoma in five starts.

“We were solid today, just not good enough at the right times,” Elliott said.

Larson, who had led just 11 laps in six previous combined races at Sonoma, won all three stages and led a race-high 58 of the 92 laps. The eighth caution sent the race to overtime for a two-race sprint shootout, but he easily cleared Elliott on the restart and pulled away to tie Truex with a Cup high three wins each this season.

Hendrick's four drivers have combined for seven wins this season and Bowman at ninth Sunday gave

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