SPEEDWAY, Ind. – The 2019 NASCAR Cup Series regular season came to a close Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and three Hendrick Motorsports teammates will advance to the 16-driver playoffs.
Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman all clinched their spots in the battle for a championship – Elliott and Bowman via wins, and Byron on points. Jimmie Johnson narrowly missed the playoffs for the first time in his career.
It marks the 12th time the organization has sent at least three drivers into the playoffs, which is the most all-time by any team.
It will be the first career Cup Series playoff appearance for Byron, the second consecutive for Bowman and the fourth in a row for Elliott.
“I’m excited,” Byron said. “I don’t really know what to do or what to expect or anything. But, obviously having been in the series last year and having seen the way that the races played out, it’s just all about getting down to business and pretty much doing the same thing that you’ve been doing to get here. Just try to eliminate mistakes, I think, is the biggest thing. I’m going to try to definitely have really clean races.”
Elliott will enter the playoffs seventh in the standings with 2,018 points. Bowman will begin the final 10-race stretch in ninth with 2,005 points, and Byron is currently 13th with 2,001 points.
“It’s a fun time of the year,” Elliott said. “This time of the year really counts and really matters. The weather is starting to cool off and we are getting to these tracks and rounds where there is high pressure. Things definitely don’t get any easier from here and we are looking forward to it.”
The playoffs begin next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with the race on Sunday, Sept. 15, scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
From there, the schedule moves to Richmond before an elimination race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course when the field will be trimmed to 12. The second round of the playoffs features trips to Dover, Talladega and Kansas, where four more drivers will be eliminated. The final eight will then compete at Martinsville, Texas and ISM Raceway for a chance to be among the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Bowman is excited for what he and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates will be able to bring to the table as the championship hunt kicks off.
“If we can get hot here, I think we can go all the way to Homestead,” he said. “We have race cars plenty capable of winning pretty much everywhere. We’ve just to go do our thing and not beat ourselves.”