CONCORD, N.C. -- Kyle Larson rebounded from mechanical issues to take the checkered flag at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL Sunday, earning a secure spot in the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
Larson lead for the first time in the final nine laps of the race. He used speed to keep a clear distance from the second-place driver and earned his seventh win this season and third road course victory. Larson is the only driver in Cup Series history to have three road course wins in one season.
"It wasn’t looking too good," Larson said. "Thankfully, everybody on our No. 5 car did a great job of staying calm. (Crew chief) Cliff (Daniels,) as always, did a great job of communicating with me and what was going on and getting the battery changed and the alternator changed and whatever it takes to get our battery running. But man, my HendrickCars.com Chevy was good."
Despite being involved in an accident that caused damage to his No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Chase Elliott finished 12th and earned a spot in the Round of 8, as well.
William Byron led for 30 laps at the road course and looked poised to win his first playoff race. He pushed hard to win at his hometown track but spun out on an aggressive move, finishing 11th and ending his playoff run.
Alex Bowman also put on an impressive show after dealing with mechanical issues, rallying from the rear of the field in stage three to finish the race 10th, which also concluded his time in the 2021 playoffs. In four showings at the road course, Bowman has never placed outside the top 10.
Take a look below to see how the Hendrick Motorsports drivers performed at the Charlotte ROVAL.
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Larson rolled off the grid 10th and was up two positions after the first lap. He was seventh by lap three and moved up to sixth by lap nine. After the leader pitted on lap 10, Larson moved into the top five but dropped to sixth by the competition caution.
- Larson was sixth when the first stage resumed. He edged to fourth but fell back to fifth when he was passed on lap 17. He started to lose grip and was 12th when the second caution came out. Larson restarted 19th and worked his way to 11th before stage one ended.
- The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet restarted stage two in sixth and quickly moved to fifth by lap 30. One lap later Larson jumped to third behind teammate William Byron. A caution on lap 34 allowed Larson to pit under yellow for four tires, fuel and a battery change. He was 37th when racing resumed.
- Larson marched up the field and was 30th by lap 38, 23rd by lap 39 and back in the top 20 by lap 43. After a round of green-flag pit stops, he worked his way to seventh with three laps left in stage two. Larson was sixth when the second stage ended.
- Again, the 29-year-old driver was having mechanical issues and needed a longer pit stop to fix his alternator belt. Larson was 36th for the restart and again started to move up the field. He was 23rd by lap 59, 20th by lap 61 and 15th by lap 71. Larson pitted when he was in 14th and was back on the track in 20th on lap 76.
- The fresh tires allowed Larson to charge through the field, jumping six spots in one lap. He was back in the top 10 by lap 78 and was up to sixth by lap 83. Larson pitted under the seventh caution for tires, fuel and adjustments and was seventh for the restart.
- Larson jumped to fourth after the restart and pushed to second with 18 laps left in the race. A caution for debris came out two laps, forcing another restart. The race went green with 14 laps to go and Larson dropped to third one lap later. However, he retook second place and was in that spot when another yellow flag waved with 11 laps left.
- He restarted second and took the lead on lap 101 and worked the track as he extended the lead. Larson earned his seventh win and third road course victory of the season when he crossed the finish line first. He will start the Round of 8 at the clear playoff points leader.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Elliott started the race in eighth place and edged to sixth within the first two laps. He was fifth by lap four and took fourth after several cars pitted under green on lap 10. Elliott was in the same position when the competition caution officially was called.
- He restarted third and soon was chasing down the second-place driver. Elliott took that spot as the second caution of the race came out and decided to remain on the track to finish the stage. He was third after the restart but quickly regained second with two laps left in Stage 1. On the final lap, Elliott was side-by-side with the leader, took the lead and stretched to more than half a second to earn the stage one win.
- The Dawsonville, Georgia, native pitted for tires and fuel during the stage break before starting the second segment 24th. He wasted no time working his way up the field and 15th on the 34th lap when a caution occurred.
- Elliott was 11th when racing resumed. He moved to 10th within the first lap, eighth one lap later, sixth by lap 38 and was in the top five by lap 40. Elliott moved behind teammate William Byron for fourth place by lap 44 and passed him on the same circuit for third place. Five laps later, Elliott was on the second-place driver’s bumper and passed him in the final lap. He finished the stage in second.
- Elliott again pitted during the stage break for four tires and fuel and restarted 26th. He was up to 18th when he was hit from behind and then hit again on the side panel, bringing out the caution. Crew chief Alan Gustafson’s team did damage control and taped up Elliott's bumper, getting him back on the track in 37th.
- Elliott was 33rd with 37 laps to go. He slowly worked up the field and was 32nd after pitting again under green. The driver of the No. 9 Chevy was 30th when his decklid came off on lap 86, bring out the seventh caution for debris.
- Elliott pitted for tires and repairs and was 31st when the field went green. He avoided a locked-up group of cars and moved to 21st with 18 laps left and was in that spot for the eighth yellow flag. He pitted under another yellow with nine laps left and was 26th when the race restarted. Elliott moved inside the top 15 with three laps left and finished the race 12th.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 VALVOLINE CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Byron was 12th for his ROVAL start and raced to ninth by the second lap. He edged to eighth two laps later and was in seventh by lap nine. One lap later, he pitted for a scheduled green-flag pit stop and returned to the track 18th as the competition caution waved.
- After cars in front of him pitted during the caution, Byron was scored 12th. He jumped to ninth in a wild three-wide situation and was scored sixth by lap 18. Byron edged to fifth during the second caution but opted to pit for tires and fuel. He restarted ninth and moved up one position to eighth by the end of the first stage.
- Byron didn’t pit under the stage break and began stage two in third place. He moved to second within a lap and was chasing down the leader when a caution dropped on lap 34. Byron remained on the track and restarted second.
- The Charlotte, North Carolina, native dropped to third after the field restarted and remained in that spot until he pitted with three laps left in stage two. After getting four tires, fuel and adjustments, Byron finished the stage 10th.
- Crew chief Rudy Fugle continued to work his pit strategy and had Byron stay out between the stages, allowing him to restart first. He relinquished the lead on lap 76 for four tires and fuel during a scheduled stop, winning the race off pit road against the second-place driver. Byron was fifth when he came out of the pits.
- He already was up to third by lap 79 and took the lead two laps later. Byron was in the lead until the seventh caution with less than 25 laps to go when Byron pitted for fuel and tires. He was sixth when the race was under green and moved to third almost immediately after the restart. Byron was nudged from behind and missed the chicane, causing him to drop to 11th. However, he took advantage of a yellow flag on lap 93, allowing him to have a strong restart.
- Byron was eighth with 13 to go and moved up to sixth when another yellow flag waved with 11 laps left. He kept his eyes on the prize and worked his way to fifth, then fourth with eight laps to go. Byron took third place one lap later and was riding in that spot when he tried to pass the car running second. He spun out after the effort and finished 11th.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY/CHARLOTTE FC CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman began the race in 12th place and dropped to 13th within two laps. He reclaimed the lost position and was trying to move past the 11th-place car by lap five. Bowman broke into the top 10 several laps later and jumped to sixth as cars pitted under green between laps 10 and 11. The competition caution was called at that time and Bowman was scored seventh.
- He restarted seventh and had to dodge a spinning car on lap 15 to avoid a crash. Bowman dropped to 15th and a yellow flag on lap 21 allowed the No. 48 team to take advantage pitting without penalty for adjustments, tires and fuel. He restarted 21st and moved up to 14th by the end of stage one.
- The Arizona native remained on the track during the stage break and restarted stage two seventh. Bowman was in that position when a yellow flag waved on lap 34. He pitted again and had his alternator checked out while being serviced for tires and fuel. Bowman was 34th for the restart.
- He quickly moved up the field and was 29th by lap 38 and was 23rd by lap 39. A round of green-flag pit stops 10 laps later allowed Bowman to break into the top 10 and finish stage two ninth.
- Crew chief Greg Ives made the call for Bowman to pit fire tires, fuel and adjustments, putting him 33rd for the start of stage three. He was up to 24th by lap 60 and edged up a position a couple of circuits later. Bowman was back in the top 20 by lap 70. He decided not to pit with the group of cars ahead of him and was up to seventh by lap 77.
- Bowman broke into the top five with 31 laps left in the race. He fell to sixth a couple of laps later and was out of the top 10 with 24 laps left in the race due to a faltering alternator. He was 13th under the seventh yellow flag but was hit with a speeding penalty, putting him 29th for the restart. Bowman moved up the field in an impressive manner and was 10th when the race ended.