Hendrick Motorsports won Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway with the No. 5 car of Kyle Larson, and five is now the organization’s magic number.
Larson delivered Rick Hendrick his 295th win in the NASCAR Cup Series, moving the bar to five more to 300 — a goal that was top of mind coming into the season.
“I think it was more than a whisper at our season kickoff luncheon for Mr. Hendrick,” said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports. “It was an ask of his and he lit that fire underneath of everybody very early on in January, and we’re certainly marching forward towards that.
“Obviously, (it’s) a goal we want to achieve, and in addition to that, keep going right on past that. We need to focus on long-term, on late summer and early fall, and having performance in our cars like we do now at that point of the season. Certainly, I know as a company, we’re very pleased with how this package has performed for us — Phoenix, Richmond, now here.”
The victory was the second for Larson on the season after winning two weeks ago at Richmond Raceway. It was the fourth victory for Hendrick Motorsports, who went to victory in Las Vegas and at Phoenix Raceway with William Byron.
Phoenix is the championship-deciding race. Martinsville is the race that decides the drivers in the Championship four.
“As Cliff (Daniels) said, we weren’t in the best shape, and we still have some work to do here as a company to have some more consistency across all our cars,” continued Andrews. “But certainly a good start for us for 2023, and yes, 300 is something we’re at for Mr. Hendrick, first and foremost.
“But that championship in Phoenix at the end of the year is another big one we’ve got our sights set on.”
Larson and Chase Elliott were the only two Hendrick Motorsports cars to finish in the top 10 at Martinsville. Alex Bowman finished 11th and William Byron, who thought he was fighting mechanical gremlins in the final stage, finished 23rd.
The number five goes deeper for the team at Martinsville. Geoff Bodine was victorious in the number at the track in the spring of 1984 — the first win for the organization, helping keep the doors open.
Sunday, Larson drove the car number back into victory lane for Hendrick at the track for the first time since Bodine’s win. It was a milestone that nether Daniels, Larson’s crew chief, nor Andrews knew.
“That’s pretty awesome,” Andrews said. “Obviously being the site of the first win for Hendrick Motorsports back in 1984 and then to come here today and put No. 5 back in victory lane, that’s always a special number. It has been for Mr. Hendrick through the years.
“A lot of great milestones that go with that number and a lot of history and heritage there. So, for us as a company, very proud of that and to bring that to Mr. Hendrick as well back here at Martinsville.”
Hendrick Motorsports has 28 wins at Martinsville Speedway with nine different drivers. It is the most victorious at a single racetrack for any organization in Cup Series history.