HOMESTEAD, Fla. – The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season came to a close Sunday evening at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Chase Elliott led his teammates to the checkered flag.
In his final race in the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS before moving to the No. 9 Chevy next season, Elliott finished fifth.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., racing for the final time in his career in the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, was the next teammate to cross the finish line. He took home a 25th-place result in his emotional finale.
Jimmie Johnson finished 27th, and Kasey Kahne, driving in his final race for Hendrick Motorsports – and the final race for the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS – rounded out the organization’s effort at Homestead with a 33rd-place finish.
Martin Truex Jr. captured the win and the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Below is a closer look at how the Hendrick Motorsports drivers fared in the season finale.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 GREAT CLIPS CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Rolling off the grid 27th for the final start of the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, Kahne lost a lap to the leaders during a long green-flag run during the first segment of Sunday’s race. He finished Stage 1 in 27th. During Stage 2, the No. 5 Chevy took some damage when Kahne had nowhere to go as a competitor hit the wall in front of him. Quick work by the No. 5 team on pit road allowed Kahne to return to the track, though he found himself down six laps in 36th. In the final segment, though he lost more laps, he gained a position up to 35th with less than 70 laps remaining. He continued to gain spots down the stretch, passing two more competitors to finish 33rd.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Starting 18th, Elliott quickly got to work and found the top 10 early in Sunday’s race. He finished Stage 1 in seventh, and he maintained his top-10 position in Stage 2, finding that green-checkered flag in ninth. In the final segment, however, he fell back a little in the pack, settling into 12th with less than 75 laps remaining before a cycle of green-flag pit stops. Another long green-flag run saw the leaders put multiple cars a lap down, including Elliott, who was in 12th down one lap with 55 laps remaining. At the time, only seven cars were on the lead lap. When the leader pitted, Elliott was back on the lead lap and raced his way back inside the top 10 to seventh with 42 laps to go. With 10 laps remaining, he had moved in front of another competitor to run sixth, and he made it all the way into the top five before the checkered flag waved, finishing fifth in the season finale.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Johnson began Sunday’s race in 22nd, but during a long green-flag run early in the race, he was passed by the leader to fall a lap down. When he made contact with the wall, he had to make an unscheduled pit stop and fell another lap down, finishing Stage 1 in 32nd. He remained down two laps at the end of Stage 2 but picked up a position to finish 31st. In the final segment, Johnson continued gaining as many positions as possible, moving up to 28th with less than 80 laps to go. He was able to gain two more positions as the laps wound down before losing one spot to teammate Earnhardt to cross the finish line in 27th.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Starting his final race in the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS from the rear of the field, Earnhardt quickly made his way through the field Sunday afternoon. Though he raced up inside the top 20, a long green-flag stretch allowed the leader to put Earnhardt a lap down, and he finished Stage 1 in 20th. In Stage 2, he remained a lap down and finished in 23rd. The final segment saw Earnhardt race toward the free pass position as the first car a lap down. As he battled for that position, however, another long green-flag run saw the leaders continue to put multiple cars a lap down. In 18th, Earnhardt found himself behind by two laps, and only seven drivers were on the lead lap with 55 laps remaining. When the leader pitted, he gained one of those laps back, and he kept working, running 16th with less than 40 laps remaining. On Lap 249, however, he headed to pit road with a flat right-front tire, returning to the track back outside of the top 25. He continued to battle to the very end, taking the checkered flag 25th.