CONCORD, N.C. -- Chase Elliott not only won the season finale at Phoenix Raceway but earned his first NASCAR Cup Series title after he commanded the field through the majority of the race.
The 24-year-old driver started in the rear due to inspection issues before the race and maneuvered his way to the front of the pack within the first stage. Elliott ran within the top three for the rest of the race and led for a whopping 153 laps.
"I just never would have thought that this year would have gone like it has," Elliott said. "I mean, NASCAR Cup Series champion. Are you kidding me?"
Teammate Jimmie Johnson concluded his last race as a full-time Cup Series driver with an impressive fifth-place finish. William Byron also had a top-10 result by finishing ninth and Alex Bowman rounded out the group after he placed 16th.
Take a look below to see how the last race of the 2020 season ended up for the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Elliott started from the rear after he had issues with inspection before the race. He was up to 25th within the first five laps and edged to 20th four laps later. Within the first 16 laps he bypassed teammate William Byron for 15th place.
- It didn't take long for Elliott to leapfrog teammate Jimmie Johnson move into 13th. He was in 10th when the competition caution was called on lap 30.
- He was in 10th after the restarted and edged to fifth by lap 40, placing him third among the four championship contenders. One lap later he was in fourth behind teammate Alex Bowman. Elliott quickly passed Bowman to settle in third and finished Stage 1 in that position.
- He came off pit road in third and restarted in that spot. Before the 115th lap Elliott finally edged to second after a hard-fought battle.
- Lap 120 saw Elliott claim the lead for the first time. He pitted under green on lap 140 and returned to the track in 13th. It only took 21 laps before Elliott reclaimed the lead and he stayed in that spot until a caution dropped on lap 161.
- Elliott pitted and came back out in in second. It took less than two laps for him to retake the lead, but he fell to second by lap 174. Soon Elliott was battling it out for first place and eventually claimed the top spot for lap 184. On the last lap of the stage he lost the lead and finished the segment in second.
- Thanks to a clean pit stop, Elliott started Stage 3 in first place. He kept the lead through the first half of the final stage until he pitted, returning to the track in second place.
- With 42 laps to go, Elliott passed the lead car on the inside and took over the No. 1 spot. He widened the gap between second place to over three seconds with less than 10 laps left. The gap closed to under three seconds, but Elliott kept a commanding lead to earn his first Cup Series title.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Byron rolled off the grid in 25th. He was up to 20th within the second lap and edged to 16th by the seventh lap. Byron was in 15th by the competition caution.
- He edged to 13th by lap 40 and then 12th seven laps later. Byron was down to 16th during lap 63 and he finished the stage in 18th place.
- After pitting between stages, Byron returned to the track in 17th. Within the first few laps of the stage Byron moved up to 14th place and soon settled into 13th. He was on the outside of the top 10 by the 120th lap in 11th place.
- Byron was in 10th by the 130th lap. He jumped to fifth after a round of pit stop but soon joined the group down pit road. He returned to the track in 11th and was 15th when a yellow flag dropped.
- Byron was 14th when racing resumed. It didn’t take long for him to move inside the top 10 and settle in ninth place. Byron dropped to 10th to finish the second stage.
- The Charlotte, North Carolina, native started Stage 3 in eighth place and quickly jumped to sixth after lap 202. After a scheduled pit stop under green Byron was riding in eighth again by the 264th lap. He was down a spot to ninth several laps later and remained in that position for a top-10 finish.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- For Johnson’s last race as a full-time driver, he started in 26th. Within eight laps he was 17th behind teammate William Byron. He surpassed Byron and settled into 14th just 13 laps into the race. Johnson slipped to 16th when the competition caution was called.
- Johnson was in 15th by lap 44 and edged to 12th less than nine laps later. On the 53rd lap Johnson shifted up another spot to 11th, which is how he placed in Stage 1.
- Johnson pitted and started Stage 2 in 12th. He broke into the top 10 less than 12 laps into the stage and was in ninth two laps later. Shortly after 100 laps Johnson was up to seventh place and it was only a few short laps later that he moved up to sixth.
- Nearly 60 laps into the second stage saw Johnson break into the top five. He led the field after the cars in front of him pitted. He led for two laps before pitting for fresh tires and fuel.
- Johnson jumped to ninth shortly after returning to the track. He was in seventh when a caution dropped on lap 162 and was in the same position when the race resumed. Johnson moved up a position after the restart and finished Stage 2 in sixth.
- Johnson was in 11th by lap 200 but he had a swift run to seventh behind teammate William Byron. He pitted with less than 55 laps left and came back out in 10th. He jumped to sixth with less than 50 laps left in the race.
- The seven-time Cup Series champion moved into fifth, his highest position of the race, with less than 15 laps to go. He finished in that position and drove up alongside Elliott to congratulate him on his first NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 TRUCK HERO/CHEVYGOODS.COM CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman kicked off the final race of the 2020 season with a sixth-place start. He kept that position through the first 30 laps until the competition yellow came out.
- Bowman restarted in third after a stellar pit stop. He slipped to fourth after teammate Chase Elliott passed him and was riding in fifth by lap 49. Bowman was seventh by the end of the first stage.
- After pitting between stages, Bowman was in seventh for the start of Stage 2. Twelve laps in he slipped to 12th place and he was 14th 30 laps into the stage. Bowman reported a previous adjustment was slowing him down and he dropped to 20th.
- A caution late in Stage 2 allowed Bowman to returned to the track in 19th. He moved up to 16th by the end of the second stage. Bowman restarted in the same position and was in 16th after 200 laps.
- He was down three spots by lap 248. He pitted for a scheduled green-flag stop and returned to the track in 25th.
- After a cycle of pit stops Bowman was riding in 13th by lap 267. He dropped to 16th several laps later, which is how he finished the race.