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‘Best it’s ever been for us:’ Hendrick Motorsports celebrates milestone win, eyes all-time record

AUSTIN, Texas — For 21 seasons, Petty Enterprises’ record 268 NASCAR Cup Series win remained untouched.

On Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports notched its own 268th victory to tie Petty Enterprises for most all-time at the sport’s top level. The driver of the team’s No. 9 Chevrolet, Chase Elliott, equaled out the playing field when he was declared victor of the rain-shortened Circuit of The Americas race in Austin, Texas. It marked Hendrick Motorsports’ fifth triumph in 2021.

“The boss has been on us heavy about that record,” Elliott said. “He wants that record, so super glad that we could help with that.”

RELATED: Chase Elliott wins rain-shortened COTA race

Rick Hendrick’s Hendrick Motorsports has fielded entries since 1984. Richard Petty’s Petty Enterprises competed from 1949-2008; its last win was in 1999.

Hendrick has 13 titles, with the latest coming in 2020 by Elliott, while Petty’s 10th and final was in 1979 by The King, himself. Both organizations were home to a seven-time champion — Petty and Jimmie Johnson.

Petty Enterprises set the bar. Hendrick Motorsports met it.

“I really don’t know what to say other than Richard Petty and that organization have been the backbone of the sport,” Hendrick said. “Richard has done so much. It’s quite an honor to even be in the same series with him.

“Never thought we’d get here, but real proud of the guys.”

COTA was Elliott’s first win of the season. The additional four in-house victories are split among his three teammates — Alex Bowman (two), William Byron and Kyle Larson, who placed second to Elliott at COTA.

Bowman actually led Hendrick Motorsports’ first-ever 1-2-3-4 finish last week at Dover International Speedway. That has only ever happened three other times in the sport’s history, once in the modern era.

“I think it’s the best it’s ever been for us, to have a balance of four cars that are running that well,” Hendrick said. “We usually had one or two — Jeff’s domination, Jimmie’s dominating.”

Jeff Gordon stands as Hendrick Motorsports’ winningest driver with 93 to his name. Johnson then follows with 83. Both spent their entire career with Hendrick.

Elliott is then tied with Terry Labonte for third-most at 12 wins.

RELATED: All of Hendrick Motorsports’ wins by driver

Elliott’s recent trophy actually achieved yet another milestone, this one for Chevrolet. The manufacturer now has 800 wins — the series’ best mark by 92 (Ford).

“They’re a great partner to me personally,” Elliott said. “They’ve played a massive role in the success of Hendrick Motorsports, past and present. A great group to work with, so super proud of them.

“Obviously there’s a lot of guys — a lot more guys than me — that have contributed to that banner.”

Chevrolet’s 400th, 500th, 600th and 700th milestone victories were thanks to Hendrick Motorsports drivers. Labonte tallied No. 400 at Richmond Raceway in 1994, Gordon hit 500 at Watkins Glen International in 2001, Kyle Busch notched 600 at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2007, and Johnson grabbed 700 at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012.

In fact, every Hendrick Motorsports win was powered by a Chevrolet, dating back to Geoffrey Bodine’s first trip to Victory Lane in 1984 at Martinsville Speedway.

“The support from Chevrolet has been awesome all these years,” Hendrick said. “They’ve always been there. I appreciate that a bunch. You stick with a manufacturer, you go through times where you think your car is not as good, then you hit a streak and you get it all figured out.”

Hendrick Motorsports currently seems to have it all figured out with Chevrolet. All four of its drivers are provisionally locked into the playoffs with 14 races down and 12 to go in the regular season. No chance any one of them is taking his foot off the gas either; a crown jewel awaits.

The annual Coca-Cola 600 is Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM).

“Man, I don’t know,” Hendrick said. “It would sure be nice to win another one in Charlotte. That would be the place to really break the record.”