LAS VEGAS – Sunday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Alex Bowman led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the checkered flag in the opening race of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
After running inside the top 10 for much of the race, a flat tire with under 20 laps to go ultimately caused Bowman to lose his position and finish 19th.
Jimmie Johnson was the next Hendrick Motorsports teammate to the checkered flag, finishing in 22nd. Johnson was running inside the top five with less than 20 laps to go, but a flat tire in the closing laps also derailed his progress.
Chase Elliott’s day was cut short when he was involved in a multiple-car incident in the final segment while racing inside the top 10. He was scored 36th.
“We’ll try to rebound next week,” Elliott said. “We had a really good race car today.”
William Byron made contact with the wall in the final stage and the damage to his rear suspension ended his day early. He was scored 37th.
Brad Keselowski won the race.
Below is a closer look at how the four Hendrick Motorsports teammates fared Sunday at Las Vegas.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Leading his teammates to the green flag in sixth, Elliott continued to race inside the top 10 for the majority of the opening segment. After being shuffled down to 12th after a cycle of green-flag pit stops midway through Stage 1, Elliott steadily worked his way back up in the closing laps of the first segment. He was in ninth by Lap 55, and the driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 continued to gain ground, ultimately finishing Stage 1 inside the top five in fifth. Elliott earned six extra points for the result.
- Elliott moved up two positions during the caution between stages, taking the Stage 2 green flag in third. After making a pit stop later in the middle segment, Elliott lost his top-10 position and was shuffled down to 18th by Lap 115.
- In the ensuing laps, Elliott quickly got work to gain back positions, and by Lap 138, he had moved up six positions into 12th. The driver continued to battle through the later laps of Stage 2, including a caution, to work his way back into the top 10. He finished the segment in seventh, gaining four extra points with the finish.
- In the final segment, Elliott was running inside the top 10 when he was involved in a multiple-car incident. The damage to the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 cut his day short, and he was scored 36th.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Starting Sunday’s race in 21st, consistent racing saw Byron steadily gain positions throughout Stage 1. Though he was still running 21st on Lap 45, the driver moved up five positions over the next 19 circuits to move into 16th by Lap 64. In the final laps of the opening stage, Byron picked up two more positions to earn a 14th-place finish in Stage 1.
- Taking the Stage 2 green flag in 15th, Byron remained inside the top 15 for the opening of the middle segment before being shuffled to 17th by Lap 115. The driver fell outside the top 20 and was running 22nd by Lap 125, and he ultimately finished Stage 2 in 21st.
- In the closing segment, Byron made contact with the wall midway through the stage and the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 suffered damage as a result. The No. 24 team looked to repair the damage but the rear suspension ultimately caused Byron's day to be cut short. He was scored 37th.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S FOR PROS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Starting the day in 17th, Johnson battled in Stage 1 to maintain his position inside the top 20. After being shuffled to 23rd after a cycle of green-flag pit stops midway through Stage 1, the driver picked up three positions in the ensuing laps to move back into the top 20 by Lap 64. He continued to gain back positions, finishing Stage 1 in 17th.
- Hard work by the No. 48 team helped Johnson gain four positions in the caution between stages to take the Stage 2 green flag in 13th. By Lap 115, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 gained four additional positions to move into the top 10 in ninth.
- Johnson held his top-10 position for the majority of the middle segment, and in the closing laps, the driver continued to steadily gain more positions, working his way to a top-five finish in Stage 2, earning a fourth-place result. The result earned him seven additional points.
- In the final stage, Johnson remained consistent and raced inside the top 10 for the majority of the segment. After initially falling down to ninth on Lap 223, Johnson was back up to fifth with under 25 laps to go. Out of a restart following a caution with fewer than 20 laps to go, Johnson had a flat tire after contact with a competitor that ultimately impaired his progress. He returned to the track after the No. 48 team made repairs, and he battled to finish the race 22nd.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 VALVOLINE CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Rolling off the grid in 10th, Bowman stayed inside the top 10 for the majority of the first part of Stage 1. Still running 10th on Lap 45, he gained three positions over the next 10 laps to move into seventh by Lap 55. Nine laps later, Bowman had himself inside the top five in fifth, and the driver of the No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 gained two additional spots to finish Stage 1 in third. With the result, Bowman picked up eight extra points.
- Bowman ran as high as second in the opening laps of Stage 2, and by Lap 95 he had settled into fifth. Consistent racing throughout the 80-lap middle segment saw Bowman remain in the top 10 for most of the stage, and he ultimately finished in ninth, picking up two extra points.
- Bowman continued to run in the top 10 in the closing stage, moving as high as seventh with fewer than 25 laps to go. Out of a restart a few laps later, Bowman also had a flat tire that slowed his progress following contact with a competitor. He returned to the track following a trip to pit road and took the checkered flag in 19th.