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Nick Steger's "Full Circle" Moment Highlights Special COTA Weekend for Hendrick Motorsports

Nick Steger, who was an integral part of Ricky Hendrick's NASCAR Xfinity Series program in the early 2000s, was part of the No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports race-winning effort in the Xfinity race at COTA as a secondary spotter.


hero image for Nick Steger's "Full Circle" Moment Highlights Special COTA Weekend for Hendrick Motorsports

There are a lot of people who work tirelessly behind the scenes within the world of NASCAR, and those stories are some of the most intriguing stories you'll ever hear. Following the team's NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Circuit of the Americas, Hendrick Motorsports shared the incredible "full circle" story for Nick Steger, who was serving as a secondary spotter for Kyle Larson in the Focused Health 250.

Steger, who worked with Hendrick Motorsports originally in the early 2000s, started his career as the plate leader for Ricky Hendrick's NASCAR Xfinity Series entry. Steger was integral to the operations of that car and was at nearly every race to help the team chase victory.

Two decades later, Steger, who bounced around to other teams throughout his career before ultimately returning to Hendrick Motorsports in 2015, was part of a truly special win for the HMS organization.

Saturday's win by Larson marked the first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory for the storied Hendrick Motorsports team since the 2009 season, which served a 12-year hiatus from fielding cars in the series beginning in 2010.

Hendrick Motorsports began fielding the part-time No. 17 entry in 2022, and while the team had been very close to victory several times leading into this weekend's race at COTA, they had yet to reach victory lane until Larson finally broke through Saturday at the 3.41-mile road course in Austin, Texas.

While Larson made an incredible charge on the final restart of the race, as he climbed from eighth to the lead on fresh tires, the section of the course that Steger was in charge of as a spotter didn't allow him a good view of the finish line. As a result, Steger was left wondering how far up Larson had worked himself before getting to the checkered flag.

"He (Larson) was catching him (the No. 97 car of Shane van Gisbergen) into turn 12 and I was thinking he'd finish second or third," Steger admitted. "I heard the pass and I thought he just made one pass. I guess he did make one pass, but it was at the same time (to get both cars). He was excited. I was assuming he finished second."

When Shane van Gisbergen and Austin Hill made contact with each other for the lead on the final lap of the race, it allowed Larson to pass them both for the lead and the win. Eventually, the news became clear on the team radio, and Steger was made aware that they had won the race.

Officially, it was the 24th win for the company in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, ironic as 24 is an iconic Hendrick Motorsports number. But it was the first win for the team since its return to the series with the late Ricky Hendrick's signature No. 17 on the sides of the car.

"I was telling my wife; it tore my heart," Steger said in the story. "When you think back on everything and it comes full circle, it was pretty cool."

Click here to read the full story on HMS secondary spotter Nick Steger.

While Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series race win for Hendrick Motorsports was emotional, the winning wasn't done for the organization.

In Sunday's EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, it was William Byron who dominated by leading 47 of the race's 68 laps on his path to his second win of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Joe Gibbs Racing's Christopher Bell was charging hard in the closing laps, but Byron was able to hold him off by 0.692 sec. to take home the trophy.

Byron's latest win, the 12th of his NASCAR Cup Series career, marked the third victory for the Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series program through the opening six races, which is the most of any team in the series.

Sunday's win put HMS back on top ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing, which scored back-to-back wins at Phoenix Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway leading into Sunday's race at COTA.

This week, Hendrick Motorsports, which is the winningest race team in NASCAR Cup Series history (304 wins), will look to snag yet another checkered flag.

You would imagine confidence would be rather high for the four-car team heading into Sunday night's contest at the 0.750-mile short track. Kyle Larson scored the win in this race a season ago in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, and right behind him in the finishing order was Josh Berry, one of 2024's Rookie of the Year contenders, who was filling in for an injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Chevrolet.

Alex Bowman also finished eighth in the spring race at Richmond last year, and Byron led a race-high 117 laps before fading to a 24th-place finish after being involved in a late-race crash with Bell and Kevin Harvick.

Expect the Hendrick Motorsports team, which is riding on the high of an excellent weekend at COTA, to contend near the front again this weekend at Richmond Raceway.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner, Getty Images

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