CONCORD, N.C. – Chase Elliott overcame a pit stop mishap that placed him a lap down just before the halfway mark in Saturday night’s race at Richmond Raceway to secure a fourth-place result in the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
“It was nice to come here and just put together a solid night,” said Elliott after capturing his fourth career top-five finish at the Richmond venue. “I felt like we performed at a really high level that I know we are capable of every week. If we perform like that the rest of the season, I think we’ll be just fine.”
Kyle Larson also battled through adversity by scoring a sixth-place finish after having to give up his pole position and start the 400-lap event from the rear of the field due to inspection issues pre-race. The top-seven effort was not only his sixth in the last seven races of 2021 but it was good enough for him to secure a position in the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet clinched a spot in the next round by virtue of points after earning fourth-place results in the race’s first two stages.
“At the beginning of the race, I thought I was going to have a really good shot to win, but we kind of lost the balance there and got it back a little bit there at the end, so we probably finished where we deserved” Larson stated post race. “To go to Bristol and know that we’re locked in is nice. We’ll try to be aggressive and get a win this week.”
Alex Bowman brought home a 12th-place finish after racing between 10th and 15th for most of the night while teammate William Byron rounded out the Hendrick Motorsports contingent with a finish of 19th.
Martin Truex Jr. won the race.
Take a look below to see how all four Hendrick Motorsports teams fared at the .75-mile Richmond track.
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Larson won the pole position for the Saturday night race but was sent to the rear of the field for the start of the race due to pre-race inspection issues. He quickly maneuvered through the field, sitting 20th on lap 27. At the competition caution, Larson was 19th and rejoined the field in 15th after making a pit it stop under caution.
- Another caution came out on lap 42 and Larson was scored 13th. Crew chief Cliff Daniels elected to keep Larson on track, and he restarted from the same position before breaking into the top-10 on lap 56. He moved into sixth with eight laps to go in stage one before finishing fourth. The Elk Grove, California, native pitted at the stage break and reset in fourth for the start of stage two.
- By lap 115, Larson fell to eighth and made a scheduled green-flag pit stop 20 laps later to rejoin the field in 10th. He then made his way to the front of the pack, entering the top-five in fifth on lap 177, and he made his second green-flag pit stop on lap 186 that cycled him through to eighth. He advanced three positions to fifth by lap 217 and went on to finish stage two in fourth.
- During the stage break, Larson made a routine pit stop and started the final stage in fifth. After two scheduled green-flag pit stops at laps 300 and 350, Larson found himself in ninth and was able to muster a few more positions before finishing the race in sixth.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 KELLEY BLUE BOOK CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Elliott started the second playoffs race in 13th and was quick to enter the top-10, sitting ninth on lap 26. At the competition caution on lap 30, Elliott was scored eighth, pitted under caution and gained two positions after a quick pit stop by the No. 9 crew.
- A subsequent caution came out on lap 42 as Elliott had made his way up to fourth. Crew chief Alan Gustafson elected to keep the Dawsonville, Georgia, native on track, restarting fourth, and as a result Elliott was able to pick up a couple of spots to finish stage one in second.
- Elliott pitted at the stage break and was slated second at the restart. He soon took the lead on lap 91 before making a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 133 that placed him third when he returned to the track. The adjustments and fresh tires proved to make a difference as Elliott took over the lead on lap 163. He made his second green-flag stop of stage two on lap 182 but a pit road mishap that resulted in a long stop relegated Elliott to 17th and fell one lap down. Ultimately, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion received the free pass at the conclusion of stage two that placed him back on the lead lap for the start of the race’s final stage.
- Elliott made a pit stop at the stage break and restarted 12th, breaking into the top-10 on lap 265. Just 32 laps later, the driver of the No. 9 Chevy pitted under green and returned to competition in ninth before moving into fifth on lap 314. He pitted on lap 345 and reset for the final stretch of the race in fifth. Elliott, who led a total of 58 laps in the race, was able to pick up one additional spot before taking the checkered flag in fourth.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Byron rolled off the starting grid 14th and was up to 12th by lap 30. He took advantage of the competition caution and pitted for routine service, returning to green-flag racing in 14th. Byron raced between 14th and 16th during the ensuing circuits but lost a few positions by the end of the first stage, taking the green-white-checkered in 19th.
- After pitting during the stage break, taking four tires and fuel, Byron restacked 15th. He continued to chase down the pack ahead but made another pit stop on lap 134 where he cycled through to second. Another pit stop under green on lap 188 allowed the Charlotte, North Carolina, native to move into the top-10 five laps later. Unfortunately, the leader passed Byron on lap 231 and he was scored 13th, one lap down, before finishing stage two in 14th.
- At the stage break, crew chief Rudy Fugle called his driver to pit road, which relegated him to 16th at the start of the final stage. On lap 278, Byron was scored 22nd but cycled through ensuing green-flag pit stops to 19th. On lap 339, Byron fell two laps down but continued to jockey for position as the race wound down but ultimately took the checkered flag in 19th.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman set sail from 12th and made fast work of his fresh No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, entering the top-10 on lap five. By the competition caution on lap 30, Bowman had fallen back to 12th. After grabbing four fresh tires and fuel, the No. 48 driver picked up a spot on pit road to restart in 11th.
- As a caution came out on lap 42, Bowman had re-entered the top-10. Crew chief Greg Ives elected to stay out, and the team restarted 10th for the final laps of the first stage. At the end of stage one, the Tucson, Arizona, native crossed the line in 15th. Under the stage break, the No. 48 Ally Camaro was serviced on pit road and set to line up 14th for the start of the second stage.
- Bowman continued to chase down the field before making a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 131 for tires, fuel and adjustments. After the field cycled through pit road, Bowman wound up in 13th. The 28-year-old made another scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 180 and rejoined the field in 14th with four new tires on the No. 48 Ally Chevy. Having a freshly-serviced Camaro, Bowman had the momentum to enter the top-10 at lap 206, scoring valuable stage points with his ninth-place finish in stage two.
- Bowman made a pit stop at the stage break after the No. 48 team gave him fresh tires, fuel and worked on the Chevy’s handling. Kicking off the final segment from eighth in the top lane, a caution quickly came out on lap 251. Bowman stayed out during the yellow and restarted seventh on lap 255. After another green-flag pit stop on lap 292, Bowman rejoined the field in 11th. Bowman fell a lap down, sitting in 13th on lap 336 before making his final scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 345 to focus on the car’s handling. He rejoined the field in 13th and raced hard through traffic in the final laps before finishing his night at Richmond Raceway in 12th.