CONCORD, N.C. – The playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway was anything but predictable for the NASCAR Cup Series field but two Hendrick Motorsports drivers pushed on to secure their berths into the Round of 12.
Chase Elliott earned his spot at the end of Stage 2 when he finished third in that segment. Alex Bowman punched his ticket toward the end of Stage 3 during Saturday night’s race. Both drivers performed well during the race, but an untimely yellow flag dropped while both drivers were on pit road.
Bowman finished in 16th after he had to pit under green for a tire issue shortly before the yellow flag dropped. Other cars waiting to pit were able to do so under yellow, pushing Bowman’s track placement back.
"Unfortunately, we were not in our window to pit. Once the caution did come out, we weren’t able to take the wave around," Bowman said. "We were just kind of trapped there and, unfortunately, couldn’t recover from that."
Elliott had just gotten to pit road for a scheduled pit stop when the caution occurred, which caused him to fall out of the top 10. He managed to work his way back up to seventh and end the race in that position.
"It’s unfortunate the way the pit cycle went there, but I felt like we were close," Elliott said. "I’m not sure if we were as good as the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and 18 (Kyle Busch), but I thought we were close to them. I am proud of the effort and I hope this next round is good for us. It’s definitely not going to get any easier as it goes. Nice to get the stage point and stage win and we will try again in Vegas."
Bowman echoed Elliott’s thoughts and said his four top-10 finishes before the Bristol race was a massive confidence booster heading into the next round of the playoffs.
"I’m proud of my team. This is the strongest we have been going into the Round of 12," Bowman said. "I feel like we have some great tracks for us coming up. This is the most consistent we have been as a race team.
"I am bummed we lost our streak of top-10 finishes, but we have plenty more opportunities throughout the year to have great cars and contend for wins. Wish we would have ended up a little better, but we are ready for Vegas."