RICHMOND, Va. – The final race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season was certainly action-packed down the stretch.
Following a red flag at Richmond International Raceway, the race nearly went green for the final 30 laps until a track-record 16th caution with two laps remaining sent the event to overtime.
Kasey Kahne crossed the finish line sixth after a valiant effort to race to the front down the stretch. Denny Hamlin ultimately won the race.
"I tried," said Kahne, who did not advance to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. "I wanted to win, but Denny was a good bit better than we were."
Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick congratulated Kahne on the effort.
"He said, 'Good job, way to fight,'" Kahne recalled.
Jimmie Johnson was the next Hendrick Motorsports teammate to take the checkered flag in 11th, with Jeff Gordon and Chase Elliott following him in 16th and 18th, respectively.
Johnson and Elliott advanced to the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which begins next week at Chicagoland Speedway.
Below is a look at how the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers fared Saturday night.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Kahne led his teammates to the green flag Saturday night in seventh, and for the first 50 laps of the race he maintained his top-10 position, including through an early caution. When a caution flag waved again on Lap 85, Kahne was penalized for speeding on pit road and restarted 24th. Just after the 100-lap mark, Kahne was back inside the top 20, but on Lap 167 during a long green-flag run, he found himself a lap down in 19th. When a caution waved for debris after the halfway point of the race, No. 5 team crew chief Keith Rodden told Kahne to take the wave-around, putting him back on the lead lap. Kahne then go to work making his way through the field, knocking on the door of the top 15. When a caution flag waved on Lap 292, Kahne had made his way all the way to the top 10. The No. 5 team elected to keep the Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS on the track, allowing Kahne to restart second. In the midst of a long stretch of consecutive cautions, Kahne headed to pit road for the team’s last set of fresh tires just before a restart with 39 laps to go, returning to the track in 24th. When the race went green with 32 laps remaining following a red flag, Kahne restarted 11th and continued to push forward. With 13 laps remaining, he found fifth, and five laps later he moved up to fourth. A track-record 16th caution with two laps remaining sent the race to overtime, and Kahne crossed the finish line sixth.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 AMERICAN RED CROSS CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Rolling off the grid 34th, Elliott advanced to 25th by Lap 9. After making multiple pit stops during the first caution of the race, he restarted 38th, but once again found the top 25 by Lap 29. After a speedy pit stop by the No. 24 team during the next caution on Lap 85, Elliott restarted 17th, and found the top 15 a lap later. On Lap 95, however, he made contact with the wall after he made contact with teammate Gordon, forcing him to pit road. Thanks to more quick work by the No. 24 team, he remained on the lead lap despite making multiple stops and restarted 25th. Due to a long green-flag run, however, he found himself a lap down in 24th on Lap 151. He continued to make up as many positions as possible, and finally when a caution flag waved on Lap 265, Elliott had worked his way into position to get the free pass back to lead lap. On Lap 315, he was inside the top 20, but during a long stretch of consecutive cautions – including one that caused a red flag – Elliott fell back outside of the top 20. In overtime, however, Elliott made his way up to 19th before taking the checkered flag.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S PROSERVICES CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Taking the green flag 10th, Johnson fell just outside of the top 15 before a caution flag waved on Lap 85. He was penalized for speeding on pit road, however, and restarted 23rd. Due to a long green-flag run, he found himself a lap down in 23rd on Lap 167. As competitors began to make green-flag pit stops, Johnson stayed on the track, advancing as high as second place, back on the lead lap. At the midway point of the race, Johnson had yet to pit, but one lap later he made contact with the wall, causing a caution. Thanks to speedy work by the No. 48 crew, Johnson remained on the lead lap and was able to restart 15th. When a caution was called for debris shortly thereafter, the No. 48 team was penalized for an uncontrolled tire on pit road, sending Johnson back outside of the top 20 for the restart on Lap 228. He had found the top 15 within 30 laps, and after a decision by the No. 48 team to stay on the track during a caution on Lap 292, Johnson was all the way up to fourth for the ensuing restart. In the midst of a long stretch of consecutive cautions, Johnson headed to pit road for the team’s last set of fresh tires before a restart with 57 laps remaining, returning to the track in 28th. When the race went green with 32 laps remaining following a red flag, Johnson restarted ninth, but fell back in the pack. He recovered in overtime to finish 11th.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 88 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Starting Saturday night’s race just outside of the top 10 in 11th, Gordon battled to find the top 10 for the early portion of the event. After slight contact with teammate Elliott on Lap 95, Gordon restarted 23rd following the caution. He quickly got to work, finding the top 15 on Lap 118 and advancing into the top 10 on Lap 167. Though he briefly fell back outside of the top 10 on a restart at Lap 228, he quickly made up two positions to find 10th once again. Thanks to a fast stop by the No. 88 team during a caution on Lap 265, Gordon restarted inside the top five. When another caution was called just 14 laps later, Gordon stayed on the track to restart fifth, but lost positions to competitors with fresher tires. In the midst of a long stretch of consecutive cautions, Gordon headed to pit road for the team’s last set of fresh tires before a restart with 57 laps remaining, returning to the track in 29th. When the race went green with 32 laps remaining following a red flag, Gordon restarted 10th, but fell back in the pack. He crossed the finish 16th in overtime.