RIDGEWAY, Va. – At the track where he watched his first-ever NASCAR Cup Series race as a fan back in 2006, William Byron matched his career-best Cup Series finish Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway.
Tracking down the leader in the closing laps, the driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 took the checkered flag in second, his second runner-up result of the 2019 season.
Martin Truex Jr. won the race.
“Overall, it was a really good day,” Byron said. “This isn’t a place that I’ve loved coming to, and it just clicked this weekend. The things we did with the car going into qualifying and then obviously our race. Super excited, but second’s not super fun, either. So, we’ll try to get one spot better next time.”
Alex Bowman was the next of the Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the finish line in 30th after taking damage to the No. 88 LLumar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in a multiple-car incident.
The race was the first in the Round of 8 in the playoffs, and Truex’s win gave him a guaranteed spot in the Championship 4. Hendrick Motorsports’ remaining playoff contender, Chase Elliott, experienced an issue with an axle on the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in Stage 2 of the race that saw him fall more than 50 laps down before returning to the race.
He ultimately finished 36th.
Jimmie Johnson’s day was cut short after a multiple-car incident, and he was scored 38th.
Below is a closer look at how Sunday unfolded for the Hendrick Motorsports teammates.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Starting at the rear of the field due to an engine change, Elliott took the green flag in 32nd despite qualifying on the outside pole. But he got to work quickly behind the wheel of the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, finding the top 10 after just 30 laps. With two laps to go in the stage, he advanced to eighth, which is where he would finish to earn three extra points.
- Elliott moved inside the top five early in Stage 2 on Lap 145, competing near the front of the field until a caution midway through the stage. Upon trying to exit pit road, the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevy experienced an issue with an axle and crew chief Alan Gustafson called Elliott back down pit road. The issue ultimately forced the car to the garage as the team worked to repair it. By the time Elliott returned to the track on Lap 236, he was scored 38th, 52 laps behind the leader. He finished Stage 2 in 38th.
- In the final segment, Elliott did all that he could to gain as many positions as possible. With 65 laps to go, he had moved up to 36th, and that is ultimately where he would finish the race.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Rolling off the grid 11th, Byron jumped inside the top 10 as soon as the green flag waved Sunday. He settled into seventh on Lap 15 and stayed inside the top eight for the remainder of the opening segment. With two laps to go in Stage 2, he advanced to sixth, which is where he would finish to gain five extra points.
- At the start of Stage 2, Byron moved into third place and maintained a top-five position through a trip to pit road and ensuing restart midway through the segment. The driver headed to pit road once again under caution with seven laps to go in Stage 2, returning to the track in sixth. That’s ultimately where he would finish the second segment, picking up five extra points once again.
- He moved back inside the top five early in the final segment, running fifth on Lap 280. Twenty-five laps later, he raced up to third as the tracked down the leaders, then made a pass into the runner-up position on Lap 328. Despite falling back to fourth, he avoided damage during two multiple-car incidents and settled into third on Lap 405 right on the tail of the second-place driver.
- Thanks to quick work by the No. 24 team during a caution on Lap 448, Byron maintained his third-place position for the ensuing restart. When the green flag waved, he jumped up to second and held off the challenger behind him before another caution flag waved. Starting on the front row in second, Byron stayed tight to the leader as he tried to track down the top spot before the 11th caution of the race was called and brought another restart. Once again, he held onto second place as he chased the leader but was not able to catch him before the checkered flag, matching a career-best finish of second.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Johnson began Sunday’s race outside the top 20 in 24th, but after an early caution, he climbed to 17th for the ensuing restart. At Lap 106, he had driven the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 inside the top 15. He continued to climb before the green-checkered flag waved, finishing Stage 1 in 13th.
- Johnson found 13th once again early in Stage 2 on Lap 145 but briefly fell outside of the top 15 following a caution midway through the segment. On Lap 220, he was running 17th but got back to work tracking down the top 15 as the laps wound down. He succeeded, finishing Stage 2 in 15th.
- The No. 48 Ally Chevy settled into 16th early in the final segment and methodically made his way up to 13th as he moved toward the top 10. Following a four-tire pit stop under caution, Johnson restarted 11th but on Lap 362, he was caught up in a multiple-car incident. The damage to the No. 48 Ally Chevy was enough to end Johnson’s day early. He was scored 38th.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 LLUMAR CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman took the green flag for Sunday’s race in 19th but found the top 15 on a restart following an early-race caution. He was shuffled back in traffic shortly thereafter, however, dropping to 20th and falling a lap down on Lap 106. He finished Stage 1 down one lap in 21st.
- The driver of the No. 88 LLumar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 found the top 20 once again early in Stage 2 before reporting a loose wheel that resulted in an unscheduled pit stop. He returned to the track in 30th down multiple laps, but through multiple caution flags he was able to move to only one lap down in 24th by the end of Stage 2.
- Bowman moved back onto the lead lap early in the final segment, running 23rd on Lap 280. He re-entered the top 20 on Lap 346, settling into 19th. When a multiple-car incident caused a caution, No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives elected to keep Bowman on the track, allowing him to move up to 11th for the ensuing restart. On Lap 379, however, Bowman was caught up in another multiple-car incident. The damage sent him down pit road multiple times for repairs, but he was able to return to the track down five laps in 30th. When the checkered flag waved, he crossed the finish line in 30th.