SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Entering Monday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports had three teammates in playoff position.
Chase Elliott was locked in to the postseason thanks to his win at Watkins Glen International in August, but Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman – in 15th and 16th, respectively – needed one final race to officially clinch their positions.
They did just that at Indianapolis. With a repeat winner in Brad Keselowski taking the checkered flag, both Johnson and Bowman earned their spots in the playoffs on points.
Hendrick Motorsports’ three drivers in the playoffs are tied for the second-most among all teams in this year’s 16-driver field.
Elliott has now made the postseason in all three seasons to start his NASCAR Cup Series career.
“I felt like we actually got our NAPA Camaro pretty good there at one point in time, so that was encouraging, and had some decent pace,” he said of the Brickyard 400. “I think our speed has been better, we’ve just got to keep improving.”
Johnson is the only driver to have made the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs in every year of its existence.
“We’re going to go home and work hard and be ready for Las Vegas,” Johnson said. “I’m just proud that I’ve made every playoff since NASCAR has started them, so that’s a big honor for me. Now, we just need to go and get hot at the right time.”
Bowman said he’s proud to have made the postseason in his first season with Hendrick Motorsports – the first time he has made the playoffs in his career.
“Just being a part of it is really cool,” Bowman said. “To come from where I was at in my career is something so unattainable – just driving for Hendrick Motorsports seemed so unattainable – but to make the playoffs my first year back is really cool. It’s a special thing to be a part of.”
Elliott enters the postseason eighth in the standings with 2,008 points. Johnson is in 15th and Bowman is in 16th, with both drivers holding 2,000 points.
The playoffs span 10 races, with four drivers eliminated every three races until only four contenders remain in the final race for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“If we can stay alive and get to Homestead,” Johnson said, “who knows what can happen down there.”
It all starts next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.