CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday afternoon, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott both captured top-10 finishes at the “Tricky Triangle.”
Johnson, who started Sunday’s race in 15th, quickly gained positions and was running ninth by the end of Stage 1. The driver reached the top five with fewer than 30 laps to go, and even as he battled the handling of his No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, he held on to earn an eighth-place result.
It was his fifth top-10 result in the last seven races, and there’s no doubt in Johnson’s mind that the No. 48 team continues to make progress week by week.
“My guys kept fighting all day long,” the driver said. “That was a hard-fought, eighth-place finish. We just need to keep improving, but we’re slowly chipping away at it.”
Elliott, No. 9 team earn sixth top-10 of the season
Like Johnson, Elliott also sees consistent improvement with the No. 9 team on a week to week basis.
Rolling off the grid in 11th, Elliott finished the opening stage in sixth and worked his way into the top five by the end of Stage 2. With just 21 laps to go, Elliott moved into third when a caution flag flew and he stayed on the track, but he was shuffled outside of the top 10 when cars with fresher tires eventually passed him.
When there was another caution with 14 laps to go, Elliott headed to pit road for fresh tires. After starting 21st when the green flag dropped, he battled his way back inside the top 10.
“We had a good car – I felt like it was much better than where we finished,” Elliott said. “I didn’t do a very good job on that last restart. With old tires we fell back and had to put on tires and I had too much ground to make up.”
He ultimately finished 10th, marking his sixth top-10 result of 2018. Though he has earned higher finishes this season, Elliott shared that Sunday’s performance was another big step in the right direction.
“Tenth doesn’t show it, but felt like we had our best race of the year today,” he tweeted after the race.
Byron proud of battle
Starting his day at Pocono Raceway in 16th, Byron slowly worked his way towards the top 10, and by the end of Stage 2, he was running inside the top 15 in 13th.
He continued to gain positions in the final segment and was in 11th with just seven laps remaining, on the verge of joining his two teammates in the top 10. However, the driver was shuffled back on the restart, and he ultimately crossed the finish line in 18th.
“We seemed to have a pretty good day,” Byron said. “We just took off a little bit tight on the last restart and got stuck in some bad aero spots, but overall not bad.”
Though hoping for a better result, the driver was proud of the No. 24 team’s effort throughout the day.
“We just needed probably a 15-lap run just to get spread out a little bit,” he said. “But, it was not bad, and we’ll go on to Michigan.”