CONCORD, N.C. -- Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott recorded their best finishes at Darlington Raceway in NASCAR's anticipated return to the track on Sunday.
Bowman placed second and Elliott was fourth across the finish line in the Cup Series' first race in over two months. Previously, Bowman's best finish at the track was 18th and Elliott's was fifth.
"It's really good to restart the season this way with a strong car off the truck. We just needed a little bit more," Bowman said.
"Had a slow start for sure, it was nice to get our NAPA Chevy back driving decent there at the end," Elliott said of his result. "Hate that we were so far in left field to start the race, but really proud of the effort."
William Byron had an accident toward the beginning of the second stage and needed to get repairs for the No. 24 Chevrolet. He finished 34th.
Jimmie Johnson was leading the entire field in the final lap of Stage 1 when he and another car he was lapping tapped against each other. Johnson's car spun out and he was unable to finish the race. He placed 37th.
Kevin Harvick won the race after he held Bowman off in the final laps.
Below is a closer look at how Sunday’s race at Darlington unfolded for the four Hendrick Motorsports teammates.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Elliott rolled off the grid in 11th place and was in ninth by the time the first caution was cleared. By lap 15 he moved up one more spot to seventh and soon was behind teammate Alex Bowman in sixth place.
- He fell a spot to seventh after William Byron passed him. By lap 45 Elliott was in eighth place but was able to move up a spot a couple of laps later.
- Lap 70 saw Elliott in ninth place and 10 laps later he was in 11th. He finished Stage 1 in 10th .
- In lap 93 Elliott was penalized for speeding on pit road and restarted at the back of the field. By lap 108 he had moved up to 24th. Another caution allowed Elliott to work his way up to 20th.
- He was up to 15th by the 119th lap and broke into the top 10 in ninth seven laps later. However, Elliott fell to 14th coming off pit road.
- When another caution came out on lap 157, Elliott jumped up to eighth. He fell to 12th a short time later. For the seventh restart, Elliott was in 10th. He placed 11th at the end of Stage 2.
- When the ninth caution came out, Elliott moved up to sixth and by lap 222 he was in fourth. He jumped up to third by lap 240.
- Elliott was in a tight battle within the top five in the closing laps and placed fourth.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Byron started in 18th and moved up four spots to 14th before the first caution came out. He was in 10th by the eighth lap, putting all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the top 10.
- Byron was ninth by lap 12 behind teammate Chase Elliott and was in eighth a couple of laps later. He and Elliott both shifted up one more lap, making the Nos. 4-7 positions Hendrick Motorsports drivers.
- By lap 30 Byron had leapfrogged Elliott and Alex Bowman and settled in fifth place behind Jimmie Johnson. Fourteen laps later he was down a spot in sixth but he managed to get on the inside of another competitor for fifth place.
- Byron moved up to third by lap 55 behind Bowman and Johnson. With four laps left in the first stage, Byron passed Bowman and was in second place behind Johnson.
- Johnson’s accident on lap 89 allowed Byron to finish Stage 1 in first place. He got fresh tires four laps later and came off pit road in fourth.
- Ten laps into the second stage Byron was in third right behind Bowman. He hit the wall 10 laps later and brought out another caution. Byron was able to get repairs and came back on the track on lap 129 in 34th place and down four laps.
- At the end of Stage 2 he was in the same position and down three laps. Byron needed to head to pit road after he said he had a loose tire on lap 231. He came back out 14 laps down and finished in 34th.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Johnson quickly jumped to fourth from eighth place before the first caution came out on the first lap. He was in third place when the field was given the green flag.
- He was in fourth by lap 15, where he remained when the second caution came out at lap 32. He quickly moved up to second after the green flag dropped. A lap later teammate Alex Bowman passed Johnson and he fell to third. Soon Bowman was in first with Johnson right behind him.
- With nine laps left in the first stage Johnson passed Bowman for first place. In the final lap of the stage he was tapped while lapping a car, causing him to have an accident. He had his car towed to the garage and finished the race in 37th.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 CHEVYGOODS.COM/NOCO CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman started in the outside pole position and was in third place when an accident brought out the yellow flag on the first lap. Teammate Jimmie Johnson passed him and Bowman fell to fourth by the time the field went green.
- He slipped to sixth by the eighth lap but moved up a spot two laps later. By the time the second caution came out around lap 32 Bowman was back in sixth.
- He jumped up to third by lap 41, then made the push for the lead by lap 45. He remained there until lap 81 when Johnson passed Bowman for the lead. With five laps left in Stage 1, teammate William Byron passed Bowman for second place. Bowman ended the stage in third.
- He got fresh tires after the second stage started and was in second place 10 laps in. By lap 117 Bowman fell to third.
- He pitted on lap 126 and was slow coming off pit road. He was ninth but moved up a spot to eighth with 21 laps left in Stage 2. Bowman moved up to sixth place a few laps later and was in fourth with nine laps left in the second stage.
- After the seven restart Bowman jumped up to second place and finished the second stage in that position.
- At the start of Stage 3 Bowman moved up to the top position, but soon fell back to second. He pitted and came back on the track in fourth.
- He was back in second by lap 229 and battled hard for the top spot but was unable to get around the first-place driver. Bowman finished second in his best performance at Darlington.