CONCORD, N.C. – Alex Bowman and William Byron both were running well within the top 10 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday when a late-race caution threw them for a loop, resulting in finishes that did not reflect their running.
Bowman was battling for first place when he opted to pit legally under a green flag. Byron was in 10th when he went with the rest of the field leaders to pit for fresh tires and fuel. Unfortunately for the Hendrick Motorsports teammates, it was just minutes later when a yellow flag dropped with less than 32 laps to go due to debris on the track.
The drivers toward the back of the field who didn’t pit were given a gift. They were able to pit under yellow and not lose track position, pushing Bowman all the way down to 10th and Byron to restart in 19th. In the end, Bowman rallied to finish in fifth and Byron placed 25th.
“I guess it is good to be disappointed in a fifth-place finish,” Bowman said. “We did not need that caution to come out in the middle of the pit cycle like that. I thought it was going to be ok for us, but we just couldn’t get through traffic as well as we needed to.”
Even though Bowman saw a win slip away due to the unfortunate timing of the caution, the fifth-place finish was his best result at Las Vegas.
For Byron, the race was especially frustrating. After the yellow forced him out of the top 10, he was working his way up the field when a car in front of him stalled and slowed down. Byron had no room to avoid hitting the other car and was sent spinning off the track. He was able to get repairs and finish the race, but the result was less than satisfactory for the 22-year-old driver.
“We really had a good car,” Byron said. “We needed to keep adjusting to keep up with the track, but we were running inside the top 10 before that caution during green-flag pit stops. Then we could never rally back, unfortunately.”
Despite the unfortunate set of circumstances, Bowman knows his Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was on point for the race. Along with the stage points he earned, the driver of the No. 88 machine still is in the playoff running and currently sits in eighth in the standings just above the Round of 8 cutoff line.
“We had a really fast LLumar Camaro,” Bowman said. “Thanks to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports, because they have been working super hard. Our program is continuing to improve, and I just feel like this is another Vegas race that go away from us. At least it was a good points day, which is what we need.”
Bowman and Byron will have another chance to add to their list of accomplishments this Sunday when the field heads to the playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway. The event will start at 2 p.m. ET and can be watched on NBC.