DARLINGTON, S.C. – Sunday night at Darlington Raceway, a four-hour rain delay postponed the start of the Southern 500, but plenty of action ensued once it got underway.
Multiple-car incidents affected the runs of many drivers, including several Hendrick Motorsports teammates.
By the time the checkered flag waved in the wee hours of Labor Day, Jimmie Johnson had led the organization to the finish line in 16th.
Alex Bowman was the next to finish in 18th, followed by Chase Elliott in 19th and William Byron in 21st.
Erik Jones took home the victory.
Below is a closer look at how the Hendrick Motorsports drivers fared late Sunday night into Monday morning at Darlington.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS THROWBACK CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Elliott started Sunday night’s race in eighth, and he used that position to his advantage early on, maintaining a top-10 position throughout Stage 1. He moved to just outside the top five before a competition caution after 35 laps, and following another caution on Lap 68, a quick pit stop by the No. 9 team allowed him to take over the race lead. Ultimately, he dropped back to sixth before the green-checkered flag waved, earning five extra points for his Stage 1 finish.
- Stage 2 began with Elliott in fifth, and he found himself in a tight battle for position as he ran seventh on Lap 115. Contact from a competitor caused him to fall back in traffic a bit, and he was running 14th when a caution flag waved on Lap 141. From there, he began to push back into the top 10, and he climbed as high as fifth on Lap 165. By the end of Stage 2, however, he had dropped just outside of the top 10 to finish 11th.
- Elliott found himself 12th after the restart to begin the final segment of the race, and by Lap 225 he had fallen to 16th. As green-flag pit stops began, he moved up to sixth before heading to pit road as part of one of the last groups to stop. As the field cycled through, he was running 21st a lap behind the leader on Lap 260. Following a multiple-car incident that he was able to avoid, he restarted 23rd, still a lap down, with 86 laps to go.
- Moving up to 22nd before green-flag stops began, the No. 9 team elected to keep Elliott on the track during the cycle to get him a lap back in the event a caution flag waved. A caution never came, however, and he ultimately headed to pit road with 31 laps remaining and returned down multiple laps in 24th. He continued to climb down the stretch, crossing the finish line in 19th.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 HENDRICK AUTOGUARD/CITY CHEVROLET THROWBACK CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The youngest pole-sitter in Darlington Raceway history, Byron took the green flag at the front of the pack, but dropped to second before the end of the first lap. Though he briefly dropped to fourth, he moved back up to second before a competition caution after 35 laps. He won the race off pit road to once again lead the field to the green, but again dropped to second on the restart. During a caution on Lap 68, Byron lost position on pit road to restart outside of the top 10, and it resulted in an 11th-place Stage 1 finish.
- In Stage 2, Byron continued to battle back toward the top 10. At a caution on Lap 141, he was running 12th, but quick work by the No. 24 team on pit road allowed him to restart 10th. He bounced in and around the edge of the top 10 for the remainder of the second segment, taking the green-checkered flag in eighth to pick up three extra points.
- Byron moved into 10th once the green flag waved for the final segment, and he advanced to eighth shortly thereafter. One of the first cars among the leaders to head to pit road for a green-flag pit stop, he returned to the track in fifth as the field cycled through stops on Lap 260. With fewer than 100 laps remaining, however, he made contact with a competitor when a multiple-car incident occurred right in front of him. Multiple trips to pit road for repairs caused him to restart 21st with 86 laps to go. Following another cycle of green-flag stops, Byron was running 19th down multiple laps with 30 laps remaining. When the checkered flag waved, he was running 21st.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY THROWBACK CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Rolling off the grid sixth, Johnson jumped to fourth within a lap Sunday night at Darlington. He raced inside the top five for the majority of the opening segment, moving all the way up to second at Lap 80 and holding that runner-up spot through the green-checkered flag. The second-place Stage 1 finish earned the seven-time champion nine extra points.
- As Stage 2 got underway, Johnson continued to hold a top-five position, settling into fourth in the early laps. That’s where he continued to run for the majority of the stage, briefly moving up to third and dropping to fifth before finding fourth once again. With five laps to go, however, a neck-and-neck battle for position saw Johnson lose several spots back to seventh, which is where he would cross the finish line to end Stage 2. The result earned him four additional points.
- As the final segment began, Johnson once again jumped to fourth place, and he continued to run inside the top 10 until making a green-flag pit stop on lap 256. When the field cycled through stops on Lap 260, the No. 48 Ally Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was running seventh.
- Johnson moved up to fifth with fewer than 100 laps remaining in the event, but shortly thereafter, a multiple-car incident was instigated just in front of the No. 48 Chevy, and Johnson made contact with a competitor. The damage forced him down pit road for repairs, and he restarted 13th with 86 laps to go.
- As the field began to make green-flag stops later in the segment, Johnson stayed on the track to move all the way into the race lead before driving the No. 48 Ally Chevy down pit road. He returned to the track down multiple laps in 19th but began to push forward as far as possible as the laps wound down. He made his way to 16th before the checkered flag waved.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 AXALTA THROWBACK CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman began Sunday night’s race just outside the top 15, but he reported early on over the radio that his No. 88 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was tighter than he wanted. Though he briefly fell back to 22nd, he maintained a top-20 running position for the majority of the opening segment, finishing Stage 1 in 17th.
- As Stage 2 got underway, Bowman climbed inside the top 15, and he battled in and around that position for much of the second segment. Following a caution at Lap 157, he began to push forward toward the top 10, climbing up to 12th before the green-checkered flag signaled the end of Stage 2.
- Starting the final segment in 12th, Bowman shot up to eighth on the restart, and by Lap 229 he had raced all the way up to fifth. As competitors headed to pit road, he moved into the fourth spot before making a green-flag pit stop of his own, returning to the track in ninth as the field cycled through on Lap 260. He continued to climb, and when he avoided a multiple-car incident in front of him, he was able to restart fourth with 86 laps remaining. On the restart, however, he dropped to eighth and held that position until another cycle of green-flag pit stops.
- Following his trip to pit road, Bowman found himself in seventh, and he maintained his spot as the laps wound down until he dropped to eighth with 20 laps to go. Shortly thereafter, he made contact with the wall and fell off the pace, heading to pit road to assess the damage. He returned to the track down multiple laps in 22nd, but got back to work as the race neared its conclusion. Bowman found 18th before the checkered flag waved.