CONCORD, N.C. -- The Round of 12 NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was anything but predictable as the four Hendrick Motorsports teammates battled for prime positioning in Sin City. Even though the teammates had speedy cars at the track, unforeseen circumstances rattled the teams.
Chase Elliott took home a second-place result after weaving in and out of the top 10 during the first part of the race. He rallied in stage three and was gaining on race leader Denny Hamlin, but there weren’t enough laps left in the event for him to catch up.
"Denny (Hamlin) did a good job of controlling the gap to me,” Elliott said. “I think he was doing a good job of giving himself enough room to him to be able to work the lanes, kind of control the gap back to me.”
Elliott’s No. 9 crew did several adjustments as the track cooled to get the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE more balanced. Crew chief Alan Gustafson’s pit strategy aided Elliott in getting into the top five toward the end of the race.
“Circumstances kind of went our way,” Elliott said. “We were able to get back on the lead lap when that cycle stopped. We were there in the middle with those guys making it on fuel. We were on the fortunate end because we got back on the lead lap, didn't have to wave or get the Lucky Dog.”
Kyle Larson won stage one and looked poised to make a run for the win in the first half of the race. However, lap traffic at the 1.5-mile track proved to be the biggest issue the driver of the No. 5 Chevy had on Sunday and he finished the race in 10th place.
“I got stuck around the No. 42 (Ross Chastain), so he was able to get clear and get away and have a good finish,” Larson said. “Just being on older tires and having to battle through all of them was difficult. You forget how hard everybody races back there; it’s pretty wild.
“There were moments where I thought I was going to end up crashed or get frustrated and run myself into the wall. But we were able to mentally fight through it and come away with a top-10.”
William Byron arguably had the fastest machine on the track and battled from the rear twice to make it into the top five, even leading for several laps of the race. However, issues on pit road and a flat tire pushed Byron back and he finished 18th. Even though he didn’t have the finish he wanted, Byron is keeping his eyes forward and is going to take his strategy from his cutoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway and applying it to the next two races in the Round of 12.
“I was aggressive all day and passed a ton of cars,” Byron said. “Just be as aggressive as I’ve been on the speedways in the past. We won a race on a superspeedway last year and I feel like we can do it again. The (Charlotte) ROVAL is a good track for us too, so we’ll see what happens.”