LAS VEGAS – It was a day of highs and lows for the Hendrick Motorsports drivers.
Jimmie Johnson led 45 laps, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. often rounded out the top three of the race order and Jeff Gordon had turned a 41st-place start into a top-10 position.
But none of those outcomes held strong by the end of Sunday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The first issue was the result of a blown tire on Johnson's No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, which took him out of contention.
"I'm disappointed," he said. "We certainly had an awesome race car. I wish we could have won this Kobalt race in this Kobalt car, but we'll come back next week."
That positive mindset was echoed by Johnson's teammates despite troubles of their own.
Kahne was chasing down the leader when a competitor drove him into the wall and ended the chances of the No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS finding Victory Lane.
"He just never lifted and ran me just right into the wall and ruined his day as well," Kahne said of the competitor. "He just apologized for that. It's disappointing, nothing we can do now, but we did have a great car."
Not only did Kahne have a great car, he believed he likely had the second-best car on the track, with a shot at getting over the hurdle to the front.
"We had a second-place car the first 30 laps of a run and a winning car the last 15-20 laps of a run," he said. "I could get closer and closer."
"Really happy with our Time Warner Cable Chevy."
Another driver that was happy with his car was Gordon, though contact with a competitor took him out of contention for a top-10 finish as well.
"Certainly it ruined the front end (of the car)," Gordon said of the contact. "The car just wouldn't go down the straightaway and it was real tight."
After winning the pole, an incident in a practice session forced Gordon into a backup car and a 41st-place start. That didn't last long, though ultimately the final result didn't represent how well the No. 24 car was performing.
"Boy, we were coming," Gordon said. "We drove up there right at the beginning and the car was amazing, on rails."
"Great effort. I just can't believe the way these days are going."
Earnhardt had the best finish of the four teammates, though his second-place position with less than 15 laps remaining turned into a fourth-place finish.
"Second, fourth, whatever, it doesn't matter if you don't win," Earnhardt said. "Happy with the Nationwide Chevrolet all day long."
During the final cycle of green-flag pit stops, crew chief Greg Ives made the call that Earnhardt would take just two tires in an attempt to leapfrog the leader and vie for the win.
It did not result in a trip to Victory Lane, but Earnhardt loved the decision nonetheless.
"I liked the gamble," he said. "I liked the call. It's about being aggressive, because we weren't going to drive up and pass that 4. We had to take a chance. "
Though the results didn't necessarily show it, all four cars had the potential to run toward the front of the pack throughout the day, and Earnhardt said that only serves to build confidence moving forward.
"Hendrick overall has great speed. The engine department is doing awesome," Earnhardt said.
"We're going to get one. I want to win. We're going to get there."