DOVER, Del. – Sunday at Dover International Speedway, as the first round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs ended, Chase Elliott came as close as ever to capturing his first career Cup win.
Battling lapped traffic, he was passed as the white flag waved, however, and finished second to race-winner Kyle Busch.
“I’m just so disappointed in myself,” Elliott said. “I gave it away. I appreciate my team and their efforts today. Our pit stops were great and they kept us in the ballgame. I didn’t.”
Jimmie Johnson finished just behind Elliott in third, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. joined his teammates in the top 10 with a seventh-place finish.
Both Elliott and Johnson advanced to the second round of the playoffs via points.
Kasey Kahne was one of four drivers eliminated from the playoffs Sunday after the checkered flag waved. He finished 14th at Dover.
Below is a closer look at how the four Hendrick Motorsports teammates fared Sunday at Dover.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Kahne began Sunday’s race in 21st, but he got to work and finished Stage 1 in 16th. He continued climbing in Stage 2, taking the green-checkered flag in 12th. As the final segment got underway, Kahne had fallen back to 16th, but continued to battle. On Lap 319, Kahne was the first driver to make a green-flag pit stop, and the strategy looked to pay off as he moved all the way up to 11th with less than 50 laps to go. He fell back to 14th, where he was running when the checkered flag waved.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Elliott picked up extra points in both of the first two stages, finishing Stage 1 in seventh – leading a lap in the process during a cycle of green-flag pit stops – and climbing to third by the end of Stage 2. Thanks to quick work on pit road, Elliott gained a position on pit road, and when the leader experienced a brief engine issue, Elliot lined up as the leader for a restart on Lap 249. He held onto the lead and settled into first place, maintaining that position until a green-flag pit stop on Lap 326. As the field cycled through, Elliott inched closer to the lead once again finally regaining it with approximately 50 laps to go. Leading the pack, Elliott stayed out in front as the laps wound down, and with less than 10 to go, the second-place competitor was trying hard to chase down Elliott. Elliott battled lapped traffic in front of him and was passed by Kyle Busch as the white flag waved. He ultimately finished second.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Johnson knocked on the door of the top 10 in Stage 1, finishing 11th, and raced all the way up to fifth by the end of Stage 2. At a track where he has won a record 11 times, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS battled his way up to third with less than 150 laps to go. He continued to battle inside the top five until green-flag pit stops began. He took over the race lead on Lap 330 before heading to pit road himself after five laps. When the field cycled through, he was running fourth with less than 50 laps remaining. He gained another position to third before the checkered flag waved.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Though he began the race in seventh, Earnhardt narrowly missed the top 10 at the end of Stage 1, finishing 12th. He got back to work in Stage 2, moving all the way up to seventh before the green-checkered flag. In the final segment, he continued his push forward, finding fifth place with less than 150 laps remaining. As a cycle of green-flag pit stops began, Earnhardt moved into second place before heading to pit road on Lap 333. When the field cycled through, the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS was running seventh with less than 50 laps to go. He maintained that position down the stretch and finished seventh.