AVONDALE, Ariz. – Sunday at ISM Raceway, Chase Elliott’s playoff run came to a close.
The No. 9 NAPA AutoCare Center Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 suffered a flat tire that sent it spinning toward the wall, and the resulting damage ended Elliott’s day – and Championship 4 hopes – prematurely.
“Just a continuation of our first two weeks, unfortunately,” Elliott said. “So, hate it for our NAPA group. We had a decent NAPA Chevy today.”
He was ultimately scored with a 39th-place finish.
In his 650th career NASCAR Cup Series start, Jimmie Johnson led the way for Hendrick Motorsports Sunday, taking the ISM Raceway checkered flag in 14th.
He was followed to the finish line by William Byron in 17th and Alex Bowman in 23rd.
Denny Hamlin won the race.
Below is a closer look at how Sunday’s event unfolded for the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTOCARE CENTER CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Starting the Round of 8 finale in sixth, Elliott quickly jumped inside the top five, moving into fourth place by Lap 6. He held that position until Lap 54, when he fell back to fifth just before a caution flag waved. After a trip to pit road where he gained a spot, he restarted fifth once again and quickly jumped to third when the green flag waved. With two laps to go in the opening segment, Elliott raced into the runner-up spot and finished Stage 1 in second to earn nine extra points.
- Beginning Stage 2 in second, Elliott briefly took the lead on the restart before falling back to second. He maintained that position throughout the majority of the segment, moving to third as the laps wound down late. He would finish Stage 2 in third to gain eight more points.
- Elliott took the green flag for the final segment in fourth and quickly moved back up to third on the restart. On Lap 166, however, the No. 9 NAPA AutoCare Center Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 suffered a flat tire that sent it spinning toward the wall. The resulting damage ended Elliott’s day – and his shot at the Championship 4 – early. He was scored with a 39th-place finish.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 HERTZ CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Byron began Sunday’s race in 18th, but he systematically made his way toward the top 10 as the opening segment progressed. By Lap 49 he had moved up to 12th, and on Lap 66 the No. 24 team elected to keep Byron on the track during a caution. That allowed him to take the restart in second with just a few laps remaining in the stage, though the competitors behind him had fresh tires. When the green-checkered flag waved to end Stage 1, Byron finished 12th.
- After heading to pit road between segments, Byron started Stage 2 in 18th. By Lap 100, he had raced his way back up to 12th place. Though he jumped to 11th 30 laps later, he was back in 12th when Stage 2 came to a close.
- Byron took the green flag for the final segment in 11th and continued to battle inside the top 15 as the laps wound down. With 100 laps remaining in the race, he had advanced to 11th and was tracking down the top 10, which he found on Lap 225. Making a green-flag pit stop, however, Byron reported a vibration after his first trip to pit road and headed back a second time for the No. 24 team to tighten lug nuts. That left him down a lap in 20th when he returned to the track. He began to climb through the field once again down the stretch, finding 17th with 15 laps to go. He held that position through a restart with three laps to go, ultimately finishing 17th.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Rolling off the grid 22nd, Johnson quick moved inside the top 20 and battled just outside of the top 15 until a caution waved on Lap 66. Thanks to quick work by the No. 48 team on pit road, Johnson was able to restart 15th with just a few laps remaining in the opening segment. He finished Stage 1 in 16th.
- Johnson began Stage 2 in 14th, but he was shuffled back in traffic early in the stage to run 17th on Lap 100. He was shuffled back to 18th by Lap 130, and that is where he would remain at the end of the second segment.
- Starting the final segment in 15th, Johnson battled on the edge of the top 15 as the laps wound down, running 16th with 100 laps to go. He found 15th once again by Lap 240, but found himself a lap behind the leader. As competitors began to make green-flag pit stops, Johnson stayed on the track to move as high as third before heading to pit road himself. After the cycle of stops, he was running 15th down a lap with 50 laps to go. He held that position for a restart with three laps to go, gaining one more spot before the checkered flag to finish 14th.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman took the green flag in 14th on Sunday, but he found himself outside of the top 15 for much of Stage 1. On Lap 54, he had been shuffled back outside of the top 20 before falling a lap down. When a caution flag waved on Lap 66, the No. 88 team elected to take a wave around to get back on the lead lap. At the end of Stage 1, Bowman was running 22nd.
- Heading to pit road between segments, Bowman was charged with a penalty for speeding on pit road and sent to the rear. That left him in 26th to start Stage 2, and he moved up to 24th by Lap 100. He remained in 24th at the end of Stage 2, but found himself two laps down.
- Gaining one lap back between stages, Bowman began the final segment in 26th down just one lap. Once again, he climbed to 24th as soon as the green flag flew, and by Lap 183 he had moved to 23rd. That became 22nd by Lap 240, and after a cycle of green-flag pit stops he was back in 23rd with 50 laps remaining. He ultimately took the checkered flag in 23rd.