CONCORD, N.C. -- Chase Elliott made a hard push to take the lead from Denny Hamlin in the waning laps of the playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and was almost to his bumper before the checkered flag waved Sunday night.
Elliott's second-place finish marks his sixth runner-up result this season and second in the last four playoff races. The finish puts him firmly in sixth place in the playoff standings, just two points behind fifth.
"(It was) super close," Elliott said. "I'm really proud of our NAPA team. I feel like we've been performing at a really nice level the last three or four weeks. We just haven't had great results to show for it. I'm proud of the effort tonight. I'm looking forward to the next two; it's going to be wild."
Kyle Larson also notched at top-10 result after he finished 10th. He started the race strong after taking off from the pole position but the changing temperature of the track as the sun set altered how his No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE handled.
William Byron and Alex Bowman both encountered problems on pit road and finished 18th and 22nd, respectively. Byron was running in the top five when a flat tire derailed his momentum. He is now four points below the Round of 8 playoff bubble and Bowman is behind eighth place by 13 points.
Hamlin finished the race in first place.
Take a look below to see how the odds played out for the Hendrick Motorsports drivers at Las Vegas.
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 TARLTON AND SON CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Larson started the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on the pole but he lost the position by the second lap. Two laps later, Larson was passed and he dropped to fourth six laps in. He battled for third place over the next 20 laps but slipped back to fourth when the competition caution dropped on lap 25.
- Larson restarted in the same position and jumped up to third quickly. He edged to second and snatched the lead by lap 45, remaining in the top spot until the end of stage one.
- The 29-year-old driver dropped a spot on pit road and restarted stage two in second place. He made a daring pass on lap 89 to retake the lead. Just three laps later, teammate William Byron took over the lead before a caution fell.
- Larson was second for the restart and took the lead back from Byron. Soon he was battling with Chase Elliott for the lead and both drivers were trading spots for several laps. Larson started to pull away and maintained the lead until seven laps left in the stage when he pitted. Larson returned to the track and finished stage two in 19th place.
- After the start of stage three, Larson started to move up the field from his 19th-place starting position. He was 16th by lap 171, 15th by lap 188, 14th by lap 199, and 13th by lap 209. Larson pitted under green with the majority for the field and was 16th when the field settled.
- The Elk Grove, California, native was up to 11th with 35 laps left in the race. He edged into the top 10 with 19 laps to go and maintained that position for the rest of the race.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Elliott was 11th for the start of Sunday’s race at Las Vegas. He edged to 10th six laps in but fell back to 11th by lap 20. The No. 9 pit crew was speedy on pit road, allowing Elliott to jump up two positions and restart in ninth.
- The 25-year-old driver passed battled with teammate William Byron for eighth place, with Elliott eventually prevailing by lap 33. He was in seventh 20 laps later, edged to sixth by lap 66 and maintained that position through the rest of stage one.
- Elliott jumped up three spots on pit road and started stage two in third place. Once again, he was in a battle with Byron for the position and ended up trickling down to fifth before a caution dropped on lap 93.
- The Dawsonville, Georgia, native jumped up a spot to fourth for the restart and jumped to third within the first two turns, making the top three drivers Hendrick Motorsports drivers. He tailed leader Kyle Larson and edged again for the lead after 100 laps and bobbed in and out of the lead, eventually slipping to third behind Larson and Byron.
- Elliott was fifth by lap 118 and relinquished that position 15 laps later to head to pit road. He was 25th when he returned to the track and fought hard to get back on the lead lap. He eventually did erase that one-lap deficit and finished the stage in 14th.
- Elliott gained four spots on pit road and restarted in ninth. He edged to seventh shortly after the restart, was fifth by lap 173 and edged to fourth two laps later. Elliott pitted under green on lap 214 for tires and field, eventually cycling to second with 37 laps to go. Despite a hard run to take the lead in the final five laps, he placed second for his second top-five finish in the four playoff races so far this year.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Byron was pegged to start the race in third place but was sent to the rear due to inspection issues. He immediately worked his way up the field and was up to 19th by the seventh lap, 16th by lap 11 and was 10th by lap 19. By the time the competition caution waved on lap 25, he was ninth.
- The No. 24 pit crew did quick work on pit road and aided Byron in moving up one position for the restart. He dropped to ninth after teammate Chase Elliott passed him on lap 33. He was seventh by lap 36 and up to fifth by lap 55, eventually gaining crucial stage points by staying in fifth through the rest of the first segment.
- Byron restarted for stage two in fifth and jumped to fourth almost immediately. He was on the bumper of Elliott for third and slid in front of his teammate by lap 91. Within seconds he went around the second-place driver and cleared teammate Kyle Larson for the lead. However, an accident brought out a yellow flag on lap 93, forcing the field to restart.
- Byron remained in first when the field went green but was overtaken by Larson. He and Elliott battled for second with Byron eventually dropping to third. He fought back for second and was between Larson and Elliott until lap 133 when he pitted for two tires. Byron was 23rd when he was back on the track and fought to get the free pass position. With two laps to go he earned it, finishing stage two in 18th.
- For the start of stage three, Byron started in 18th and made quick work of moving up the field. He was up to 14th by lap 174, 13th by lap 177 and in eighth by lap 188. Eleven laps later, he was up to fifth and tailing Elliott.
- Byron pitted for tires and fuel under green for a routine stop. After getting four tires and fuel, he was running fifth when the field cycled through. However, he suffered a flat tire with 42 laps to go and had to pit, putting him down to 23rd. Byron edged to 20th with 23 laps left and moved up the field a little more, finishing the race in 18th place.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman was seventh for the start of the first playoff race in the Round of 12. He edged to fifth but was shuffled back to ninth by the third lap. He teetered in and out of the top five before settling in sixth five laps later. He was shuffled back to 13th before the competition caution was waved.
- Bowman restarted from the same spot and edged to 10th by lap 34. However, he trickled down to 12th a short time later and moved up one spot to 11th by the end of the first stage.
- The Tucson, Arizona, native was 13th when stage two began and slowly picked off the field. He was ninth when the first accident caution dropped on lap 93. Bowman took advantage of the yellow flag and was fifth for the restart. He edged to fourth behind his three teammates, making the top four Hendrick Motorsports cars.
- Bowman lost a little momentum by lap 110 and dropped to seventh. He edged to sixth within 25 laps and was in the top five before he pitted with four laps left in stage two for tires and fuel. Bowman was 24th by the end of stage two.
- The 28-year-old driver was 22nd for the start of stage three and was up to 20th by lap 169. Thirty laps later, Bowman moved to 15th behind teammate Kyle Larson. He was 14th when he pitted under green on lap 213, opting to get two tires and fuel. However, Bowman had to return to pit road after a lug nut was loose on his left-rear tire.
- He was three laps down and 29th when he returned to racing. Bowman did what he could to edge up the field and was quick to pick off spots. He finished the race 22nd.