CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course was an afternoon to remember for Hendrick Motorsports.
Chase Elliott found Victory Lane at the “roval,” all four Hendrick Motorsports teammates finished inside the top 10 and all three of the organization’s drivers in the playoffs advanced to the Round of 12.
“What a day!” Elliott said after climbing out of his No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 following his third win of the year.
He led a race-high 35 laps, though it seemed his chance to find Victory Lane could’ve ended when he missed Turn 1 and ran into the wall from the race lead on Lap 65. But the No. 9 team persevered and retook the lead with six laps to go, holding onto it through the checkered flag.
“I couldn’t believe I did that,” Elliott said of the mistake. “If there’s ever a lesson to not quit, today was the example.”
Alex Bowman was the next teammate to cross the finish line in second, giving Hendrick Motorsports its second one-two finish of the season.
William Byron finished sixth, and the results of the three playoff drivers allowed all three to move on to the next round.
Jimmie Johnson joined his teammates in the top 10, crossing the line in ninth.
Below is a closer look at how Sunday’s race unfolded for the Hendrick Motorsports drivers.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Starting Sunday’s race in 19th, Elliott quickly got to work in his No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, breaking into the top 10 on Lap 15. After pitting during a caution and then avoiding a multiple-car incident shortly thereafter that sent the race back under yellow, Elliott found himself in ninth, which is where he would finish the segment as Stage 1 ended under caution. He earned two extra points for the result.
- Elliott began Stage 2 in fourth, jumped up to second on the restart and took the lead on Lap 31. He paced the field until a caution flag waved on Lap 42, when he headed down pit road and returned to the track in seventh. It didn’t take long for him to race his way back to the front, finding fourth on Lap 46, third on Lap 47, second on Lap 48 and the lead once again on Lap 49. He maintained the top spot through the green-checkered flag to capture the Stage 2 win. He earned 10 extra points and a playoff point for the result.
- Starting the final segment up front, Elliott was still up front for a restart with 45 laps remaining in the race, but he missed Turn 1 and ran into the wall to bring out a caution. After quick work on pit road by the No. 9 team to repair the damage, Elliott returned to the track in 37th. By Lap 73, however, he had moved all the way back up to 14th. As competitors headed to pit road for green-flag stops, he put the No. 9 car back in the race lead briefly before heading in for a stop. He returned to the track still inside the top 10 with 30 laps to go.
- With 21 laps to go, Elliott found fifth place just before a caution flag waved. He stayed on the track and climbed to fourth, and through multiple more cautions he made his way to third for a restart with six laps remaining. When the green flag flew, he took over the race lead before the end of the lap. He held it through the checkered flag, winning the final race of the Round of 16 in the playoffs and advancing to the Round of 12.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 UNIFIRST CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Taking the green flag on the pole, Byron made the most of his starting spot early in Sunday’s race, building on his lead from the very start. By the time a caution flag flew 20 laps in, the driver of the No. 24 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 had padded his lead to more than six seconds. But after staying on the track during the caution, he lost a position on the ensuing restart, falling to second before another caution was called. The opening segment ended under caution, giving Byron a second-place finish in Stage 1 to earn nine extra points.
- After pitting prior to the start of Stage 2, Byron took the restart in 23rd. He climbed through the field as the segment continued, finding the top 15 by Lap 36. Heading to pit road under caution, the No. 24 team restarted 13th with six laps to go in the segment. Before the green-checkered flag waved, he had climbed up to 10th to grab and extra point for his Stage 2 finish.
- Byron began the final segment of the race in eighth, and following a caution that occurred on the restart, he found his way to fifth on Lap 68. He made a move into third just seven laps later, and as competitors began to head to pit road, he took over the race lead before making a pit stop of his own. He returned to the track in ninth as competitors took different pit strategies, but continued to climb back toward the front as the laps wound down.
- With 24 laps remaining, the No. 24 Chevy had raced all the way up to third place and held that position until a caution flag waved three laps later. He maintained a top-five position through multiple more cautions until he fell just outside of it for a restart with six laps remaining, lining up seventh. Before the checkered flag, he picked up one more spot to finish sixth, advancing to the next round of the playoffs in the process.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Starting the race in fourth, Johnson moved up to second on the lead lap and maintained that position for the first 20 laps of the race before falling back to third. During a caution shortly thereafter, the No. 48 team elected to pit. When Johnson got caught in a multiple-car pileup on the ensuing restart, he had to head back to pit road and found himself in 29th when Stage 1 ended under caution.
- Johnson began the second segment in 26th, but quickly began to make his way through the field, finding 16th by Lap 36. He made a green-flag stop for a flat tire, however, which put him back in 31st when a caution flag waved. He did not pit under that caution, allowing him to restart sixth with six laps to go in Stage 2. Down the stretch, he advanced into the top five and ultimately finished Stage 2 in fourth to pick up seven extra points.
- Starting the final segment in third, Johnson remained inside the top five all the way until Lap 74, when he missed a chicane and had to do a stop-and-go, which caused him to lose spots. The No. 48 team called him to pit road for a green-flag stop on Lap 75, and as the field cycled through he moved back inside the top 10 with 26 laps to go in the race. For a restart with six laps to go, Johnson was just outside the top 10 in 12th. Down the stretch, he battled his way up to ninth before the checkered flag waved.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- After qualifying second, Bowman began Sunday’s race from the rear of the field after moving to a backup car. Early in the event, he spun through a chicane then head to pit road for fresh tires. He was penalized for missing the chicane and sent back down pit road for a pass-through penalty, putting him back in 40th on Lap 4. Passing wasn’t easy for the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the opening segment, but he made his way up to 31st by the end of Stage 1.
- Starting Stage 2 in 28th, Bowman made progress quickly in the second segment. He found the top 20 by Lap 36 and was in 15th when a caution flag waved on Lap 42. After pitting, he restarted 26th with six laps remaining in the segment, picking up two spots before the green-checkered flag to finish Stage 2 in 24th.
- In the final segment, Bowman took the green flag in 19th but fell to 23rd before pitting under caution on Lap 61. He climbed back inside the top 20 within seven laps, and following a green-flag pit stop, he returned to the track in 19th. He moved up to 13th with 26 laps to go and continued to climb with his playoff life on the line as the laps wound down. With 15 laps to go, he had found the top 10, and he moved all the way up to sixth for a restart with six laps to go as he bounced back and forth in the playoff standings.
- With five laps to go, Bowman raced into the runner-up position, chasing down his teammate Elliott in the race lead. He held that position until the checkered flag, and the battle in the standings was tight until the very end, but ultimately the second-place finish allowed Bowman to advance to the Round of 12 in the playoffs.