SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, drivers competed in the final race of the regular season. An action-packed day ended with William Byron leading the way to the finish line for Hendrick Motorsports in fourth.
Following him to the checkered flag was Chase Elliott in ninth and Alex Bowman in 21st.
After being involved in a multiple-car incident, Jimmie Johnson’s day ended early and he was scored with a 35th-place result.
Byron, Elliott and Bowman have now all officially locked themselves into the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, while Johnson narrowly missed the cut for the first time in his career.
Kevin Harvick took home the Brickyard 400 victory.
Below is a closer look at how the Hendrick Motorsports drivers fared in Sunday’s race.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Elliott started Sunday afternoon’s 400-mile race in 23rd. However, when the green flag waved, he accelerated to 18th before a caution flag waved on Lap 10, bringing the field to pit road. Traffic caused the cars to stack up on pit road, including the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The contact forced Elliott to have to make an additional stop on pit road to fix the damage. When he returned to the track, he was racing in 36th and worked to make up position. Nearing the top 30, a caution waved to close out Stage 1 with Elliott in 31st.
- Following a red flag to clean up following a multiple-car incident, Elliott began Stage 2 in 27th but made moves to regain position. He made his way to 21st on Lap 21 despite reporting his Chevy was handling tight. Following a green-flag pit stop, a caution flag waved, briefly trapping Elliott a lap down but he took a wave-around to regain the lap. Once again, the second stage concluded under caution with Elliott’s No. 9 NAPA Chevy in 25th.
- The final segment saw Elliott restarting 28th. A caution on Lap 104 involving a large portion of the field left damage on the No. 9 car. The driver pitted twice under caution to fix the damage before returning to the field and battling to get inside the top 20. Lap 128 brought another caution with the 23-year-old driver in 18th. He restarted 14th and quickly worked to get inside the top 10 by Lap 144. He held that top-10 position down the stretch to finish the 400-mile event in ninth.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Byron began Sunday afternoon’s race from the back of the top 20, but quickly made his way through the field, settling into 21st by the seventh lap. On Lap 10 he made slight contact with the wall but reported the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 “drives fine.” During a caution, the sophomore driver got tagged from behind, which resulted in damage that needed to be fixed on pit road. He restarted 38th but by Lap 30 the 21-year-old had made his way to 19th and continued to fight for a better stage finish. On Lap 48 of the 50-lap stage, a caution waved and gave Byron a 12th-place Stage 1 finish.
- After opting to stay out between segments and instructed to save fuel, Byron restarted in eighth for the green flag to begin Stage 2. As he raced to get inside the top five, the driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevy reported his car seemed to be loose. When the leaders headed to pit road for green-flag stops, Byron was able to advance in position to third before falling back a bit and making a green-flag stop of his own. A few laps later, he opted to stay out during a caution and lined up in seventh to finish out the final laps of Stage 2. Ultimately, he finished the second stage in ninth, earning two extra points as it ended under caution.
- Byron began the final segment of the race in seventh. A caution flag waved, and he opted not to pit and was scored fifth for the restart on Lap 111. He dropped back to eighth on Lap 115 but was gaining on the cars in front of him. After moving to fourth, a caution had Byron restarting seventh after receiving four tires and fuel. Then, another caution waved while the driver was riding in ninth and he opted to stay out. With 20 laps remaining in Sunday’s event, Byron restarted in eighth and worked his way to sixth, which is where he was running with just nine laps remaining. As the final laps of Sunday’s race came to a close, Byron was able to gain two more positions to finish the event in fourth, earning his third top-five finish of his career.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Rolling off the grid fifth after a solid qualifying session just a few hours earlier, Johnson maintained his position in the beginning laps of the race. When a caution flag waved, he headed to pit road and an incident with traffic delayed his exit, causing him to restart in 27th. The team then reported the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 had to return to pit road due to a tire making contact with a competitor’s vehicle. Regardless, Johnson didn’t let the setback stop him. He quickly advanced to the ninth spot to settle into the top 10 by Lap 29. Another caution on Lap 41 had the team playing strategy and opt for right-side tires only with a dash of fuel. The strategy played in the No. 48 team’s favor, and Johnson won the race off pit road to restart in third behind the cars who did not pit. When he took the restart, he got shuffled in traffic but recovered to settle into sixth and fight for a solid stage finish. A caution with two laps remaining in the stage ended the opening segment and gave the driver taking a solid sixth-place finish, earning him five valuable extra points.
- During the stage break, Johnson headed to pit road for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments before starting Stage 2 in 18th. On Lap 82 he was in 12th but looked to make more gains. As the leaders headed into pit road for green-flag stops, the No. 48 stayed on the track to jump all the way into the race lead. The strategy paid off when a caution flag waved shortly thereafter with Johnson in the lead on Lap 88. On Lap 92 he headed in for four tires and fuel under caution and lined up eighth for the ensuing restart. However, the field never returned to green in Stage 2 and he earned an eighth-place finish, picking up three extra points.
- On Lap 104 of the 160-lap event, just as the final segment got underway, Johnson was involved in a multiple-car incident. The damage ended his day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and left him just shy of making the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs for the first time in his career. He was scored with a 35th-place result.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman began Sunday’s race in 13th. He held his position within the top 15 but worked to get inside the top 10 early in the race. A caution on Lap 11 saw the majority of the field headed into pit road, and the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 received tires and fuel. When another caution waved on Lap 41, the driver headed in for tires and fuel and gained a position on pit road to take the green flag in ninth. Just before the close of Stage 1, another caution flag waved forcing the stage to end and giving Bowman a ninth-place finish two earn two extra points.
- Bowman took the restart for Stage 2 in sixth. On Lap 76 the car headed in for a scheduled green-flag stop for right-side tires and fuel. On Lap 88 under caution, the driver was in 13th until he headed to pit road for left-side tires and fuel. However, the No. 88 car was caught speeding, and Bowman was penalized. The field never returned to green as the stage ended under caution with Bowman in 22nd.
- The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 took the restart for the final segment in 15th. Shortly after it began, Bowman received damage to his No. 88 Chevy and a caution flag waved. After the car was assessed, the driver took the restart in eighth on Lap 111. After fighting to advance inside the top 10, during a caution on Lap 128 the No. 88 machine received four tires and fuel to return to the track in fifth for the restart. With less than 30 laps left in Sunday’s race, Bowman spun on the track, making contact with the wall on Lap 134, and he headed to pit road to assess the damage. He took the restart in 24th as he fought for a better finish in the closing laps. Another caution brought the driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments to get him to the finish. With 10 laps remaining, Bowman was in 23rd. Ultimately, he raced his way to a 21st-place finish.