MADISON, Ill. – Kyle Larson led Hendrick Motorsports with a 12th-place finish on Sunday at WWT Raceway.
Larson gained two spots in the standings to move up to seventh in the points through 15 races in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Alex Bowman finished 13th, while William Byron finished 19th. Chase Elliott came in 21st and was caught up in frontstretch incident on lap 103 with Ross Chastain. Elliott did maintain the points lead, though, as he holds a nine-point edge over Kyle Busch in the standings.
Joey Logano won the race at the 1.25-mile track located outside of St. Louis to become the fourth two-time winner this season. Byron, Chastain and Denny Hamlin are the others with multiple Cup wins this year.
The Cup Series will hit the road course of Sonoma Raceway in California next weekend on June 12th for the 16th race of the season. Coverage of that race will be on FS1, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 4 p.m. ET.
Kyle Larson, No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 12th
Stage one: Larson lined up 15th for the start of the race. The reigning Cup champion was quiet over the radio for much of stage one in his first national series start at this particular track. A pass on Harrison Burton put him in the 13th position on lap 34. He would finish the 45-lap opening stage in that position and radio in that was "a little loose going back to throttle."
Stage two: Under the stage break, Larson would pit for service and restart 11th on lap 54. He wasted no time getting into the top 10 as he grabbed the position on the next lap before losing the spot to Kurt Busch a few laps later. When the caution flew for an incident involving Denny Hamlin on lap 66, Larson was running 11th. After commenting that he felt the car was "better there," Larson pitted for four tires and fuel and restarted 15th on lap 70. The Elk Grove, California, native was running 17th when the lap 96 caution fell. He pitted for right-side tires and fuel under caution and restarted 11th on lap 101 – the first car to come off of pit road. Larson and Joey Logano appeared to make contact on lap 111. The driver of the No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 got into the top 10 on lap 120. Crew chief Cliff Daniels kept Larson out from the ninth position under caution on lap 131 and Larson would restart second with six laps left in the stage. He would finish the stage in fourth and pick up seven stage points.
Final stage: In between stages, Larson would pit for four tires and fuel to restart 25th for the final stage. The fresh rubber made an immediate impact for Larson as he picked up six spots in the opening five laps of the stage. When the caution flag flew on lap 184, the winner of this year’s race at Auto Club Speedway was running 18th. Under caution, Larson pitted for two right-side tires and the No. 5 crew gained him 13 spots on pit road to see him restart on the outside in fifth on lap 190. The two-tire play didn’t work out as well for Larson as he and Daniels would have liked as he was back in 11th when the caution fell 12 laps later. Larson would stay out in 11th and radioed that he felt he didn’t have "nowhere near the grip that the guys around me have." Larson got into a three-wide battle but couldn’t hold his top-10 position. He was scored in 13th when the ninth caution and 10th cautions fell and both times, he stayed out. Following green-white-checkered attempt, Larson would finish the day in 12th.
Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 13th
Stage one: The 29-year-old started 25th for the 300-mile event. Bowman was quiet over the radio for the first stage, learning the track as this was his first national series race at it ever. He cracked the top 20 in the latter laps of stage one and would finish the stage in 20th.
Stage two: The Tucson, Arizona, native would pit during the stage break and gain four spots on pit road thanks to the work of the No. 48 Ally Racing pit crew. He would restart 16th on lap 54 and still be running there when a caution came out on lap 66 for an incident involving Denny Hamlin. Bowman would pit for tires and fuel and restart 20th on lap 70. He would be running in 23rd when the lap 96 caution came out. Crew chief Greg Ives called for two right-side tires to gain Bowman some track position as he would restart 17th on lap 101. Under the lap 131 caution, the 2022 Las Vegas Motor Speedway winner pitted for four tires and fuel to restart 22nd. Bowman would finish the stage in 19th.
Final stage: The seven-time Cup winner would stay out in between stages and restart 14th to be the highest running Hendrick Motorsports car to start the final stage. Bowman made some moves on the restart as he got to 12th place and set his sights on a spot in the top 10. He was gaining on rookie Austin Cindric but couldn’t get close enough to make the pass for the spot until lap 176. He pounced on the inside for the position but the battle for the spot would continue for the next few laps. Bowman would be scored in 12th when the yellow came out on lap 184. Ives called for two tires and the No. 48 crew’s fast work picked up eight spots and set Bowman up to restart on the inside in fourth on lap 190. Bowman was able to make the two-tire move work a little better for him than it did for teammate Kyle Larson as he had only dropped back three spots to seventh before the lap 202 caution. The No. 48 Ally Racing team would stay out in seventh and everyone in front of him stayed out. Much like the last run, Bowman made the older tires hold up after losing one spot on the restart and was eighth when the ninth caution fell. He again stayed out to restart eighth on lap 227 but this time, he was unable to keep his spot in the top 10. When the caution fell to set up a NASCAR Overtime finish, he was running in 12th. Bowman again stayed out to restart 12th for the first overtime attempt and the final results would see him finish 13th.
William Byron, No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 19th
Stage one: The Charlotte, North Carolina, native started 24th in Sunday’s race. On lap 11, Byron cracked the top 20 with a pass on Kevin Harvick. Crew chief Rudy Fugle let Byron know his turns three and four were “really good, 1 and 2 is where we need it.” Byron informed the team he was a "little tight in, free off." The 24-year-old finished the stage in 18th.
Stage two: Byron would pit under the stage break for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment and gain five spots on pit road for the lap 54 restart. When the caution flew on lap 66, Byron was running 12th. Fugle called Byron down for two right-side tires and fuel under yellow to set up his driver to restart 10th on lap 70. He would slip up the track to lose several spots early in the run. When the caution came out on lap 96 for an incident involving Ryan Blaney, Byron was in 16th and radioed in that the last set of changes didn’t help his handling with loading the right-rear tire. This time down with a mix of strategies taking place, Byron took four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustment to restart 24th on lap 101. Following the caution for Chase Elliott’s spin, Byron pitted for four tires and fuel after flat spotting his tires to avoid getting caught up in the incident. He would restart 28th on lap 107. Byron was among eight cars to stay out under the lap 131 caution and he restarted fifth with six laps to go in stage two. He would finish the stage in 11th and just miss out on a stage point.
Final stage: Byron would pit from 11th in between stages and he asked for more help turning on entry and a bit more grip. He got four tires, fuel and both an air pressure and chassis adjustment to restart 24th on lap 148. After making some moves on the restart to get up to 19th, the driver of the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was running 22nd at the time of the lap 184 caution. Pitting under yellow, Byron received four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He had a longer stop after having to back up the car for service as he tried to swing around the No. 16 of AJ Allmendinger and restarted 25th on lap 190. Byron would pit during the caution for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. getting into the wall for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to restart 24th on lap 207. WWhile the bulk of the field stayed out under the ninth caution on lap 223, the No. 24 was one of the contrarians and pitted for service including a major chassis adjustment. Byron would restart in 27th with 13 laps to go. The two-time winner in 2022 made the fresh tires work well for him as he was up to 17th when the caution came out on lap 237. He would stay out for the overtime attempt and finish the race in 19th.
Chase Elliott, No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 21st
Stage one: Elliott took the grid from the 16th starting spot. The 2020 Cup champion was an early mover as he climbed four spots in the opening eight laps. On lap 29, Elliott grabbed a spot in the top 10 as Chase Briscoe had to pit for a flat left rear tire. He methodically continued to move his way up as he passed Kurt Busch for ninth on lap 33 and would maintain that position to end the stage.
Stage two: In between stages, Elliott reported that his balance was good in turns three and four, while he loses the nose in turns one and two. This year’s Dover Motor Speedway winner would pit under the stage break for four tires and fuel. He was set to restart 10th but he had to come back in as crew chief Alan Gustafson told him that they didn’t get the left rear tire tight and he restarted 33rd on lap 54. When the caution flew on lap 66, Elliott was running 28th. He stayed out under the caution to regain the track position lost from the additional pit road trip between stages and restarted fourth on lap 70. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native would lose two spots on the restart and settle into sixth. On the lap 96 caution, Elliott was running fifth. After pitting for four tires and fuel, he would restart 15th on lap 101. On lap 103, Elliott went for a spin off of turn four to bring out a caution when Ross Chastain tried to squeeze into a spot between Elliott and Austin Dillon. Elliott and spotter Eddie D’Hondt were not happy with how Chastain raced them following that incident. The No. 9 Chevrolet pitted for repairs and to change left-side tires but overall felt that the car avoided significant damage. He would restart 32nd and bumped Chastain out of the way on lap 107. On lap 127, Elliott and Chastain made contact again and the duo also made contact with B.J. McLeod, much to his displeasure. Elliott pitted under the lap 131 caution to continue to have repairs made on the No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. He would finish the stage in 30th.
Final stage: Elliott would pit between stages for four tires, fuel, a chassis adjustment and additional work on the No. 9 Camaro and start the final stage in 32nd. Under caution for Tyler Reddick's spin on lap 184, Elliott pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to help the balance of his Chevrolet. He would restart 24th on lap 190 and still be running there when the caution came on lap 202. The 26-year-old pitted under yellow for four tires and fuel to restart 27th on lap 207. When the ninth caution came out on lap 223, Elliott was scored in 24th place and he stayed out. Following the 10th caution, he was in the 21st-running position and stayed out for the overtime finish. That position would turn out to be his finishing position.