CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, all three Hendrick Motorsports playoff drivers finished inside the top 10. But only two advanced to the Round of 12.
Alex Bowman led the Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the checkered flag in fourth and he was followed by Chase Elliott in sixth and Jimmie Johnson in eighth. William Byron was scored 34th after he was involved in a late-race, multiple-car incident.
Both Bowman and Elliott moved on to the next round of the playoffs while Johnson was eliminated.
Johnson was racing for the lead in second place on the final lap entering the final chicane, but spun out and made contact with the leader. He made a complete stop to ensure he wasn’t penalized for missing the chicane, but after crossing the finish line eighth he found himself in a three-way tie in the point standings.
He was eliminated on tiebreakers.
“Ultimately, we were in a transfer position and didn’t get it,” Johnson said. “Just going for the win. Wins are so important – the veteran could’ve taken the safe route and didn’t and unfortunately it took us out of the playoffs and took out the (No.) 78.”
Ryan Blaney avoided the incident ahead of him to cross the finish line as the winner of the inaugural Bank of America ROVAL 400.
Below is a closer look at how the four Hendrick Motorsports teammates fared Sunday on the road course at Charlotte.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 SUNENERGY1 CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Taking the green flag fourth, Elliott made a pass on Lap 3 to move into third place and just seven laps later he took over the runner-up position. Following a caution late in the opening segment, Elliott was shuffled back in traffic on the restart but held onto his top-five position to finish Stage 1 in fifth. The result earned him six extra points.
- Many competitors stayed on the track between stages, so a pit stop by the No. 9 team left Elliott in 26th for the Stage 2 restart. The driver steadily gained positions throughout the second segment, and as competitors headed to pit road, Elliott stayed out to move into the top 10 on Lap 42. He continued to press ahead, making his way into sixth just before the green-checkered flag waved for the end of Stage 2. The result earned him five additional points.
- Many competitors remained on the track once again between segments, while the No. 9 team elected to head to pit road. On fresh tires, Elliott quickly moved up to 13th before a caution flag waved. By Lap 63, he had advanced up to eighth.
- When another caution flag waved, Elliott headed to pit road once again and found himself 20th for the restart. When the green flag dropped, however, he passed 10 competitors in rapid succession to jump to 10th. With 25 laps to go, he had settled into eighth.
- A red flag was displayed following a multiple-car incident with just six laps remaining, and Elliott was seventh at the time. When the race resumed, he was lined up third for the restart with three laps to go. He battled to take the checkered flag sixth, advancing to the Round of 12 in the process.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 UNIFIRST CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Rolling off the grid 21st, Byron climbed into the top 20 within three laps Sunday afternoon. As competitors headed to pit road, Byron remained on the track as the laps wound down and advanced all the way up to 12th. The No. 24 team elected to short-pit the stage, however, heading to pit road for four tires and fuel and ultimately taking the green-checkered flag to finish Stage 1 in 33rd.
- Byron stayed on the track between stages, lining up 17th for the start of Stage 2. He climbed into the top 10 by Lap 37, and found the top five just five laps later. On Lap 46, however, the No. 24 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 experienced a tire issue that forced Byron to pit road. He was hit with a commitment line violation on the way to pit road, pushing the team even farther back in the field. Byron finished Stage 2 in 36th.
- In the final segment, Byron moved up to 24th by Lap 63. When a caution flag waved not long after, the No. 24 team went with a fuel-only stop, allowing Byron to win the race off of pit road. Several competitors did not pit, however, placing Byron 15th for the ensuing restart. He quickly climbed to seventh on the restart.
- With 25 laps to go, Byron had settled into ninth place. He climbed to eighth before a caution flag waved and he stayed on the track for the restart. On the restart, however, Byron was involved in a multiple-car incident. The damage ultimately ended his day and he was scored 34th.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S FOR PROS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Johnson began Sunday’s race in sixth, and by Lap 9 he had advanced into the top five. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 climbed to fourth before a late-stage caution, though on the ensuing restart he was shuffled back two positions to finish Stage 1 in sixth. The result earned him five extra points.
- The No. 48 team elected to head to pit road between stages while many competitors remained on the track, putting Johnson in 25th for the Stage 2 restart. The driver quickly progressed through the field, however, and when competitors headed to pit road, Johnson stayed out to move inside the top 10 on Lap 41. That progress continued all the way to the green-checkered flag at the end of Stage 2, which Johnson took in the runner-up position to gain nine additional points.
- Johnson won the race off of pit road before the start of the final segment, though he started 19th as once again many competitors remained on the track. On fresh tires, however, Johnson quickly jumped all the way back into the top 10 before Lap 60. He headed back to pit road during a caution and lined up 21st for the ensuing restart. When the green flag dropped, he quickly climbed to 15th.
- Johnson continued his push forward on fresh tires, and with 30 laps to go he had settled into sixth place. Ten laps later, he climbed into the top five. He was running fifth when a red flag was displayed following a multiple-car incident with six laps remaining.
- When the race resumed, Johnson lined up on the front row in second for the restart with three laps remaining. He got all the way to the leader’s bumper, but spun and made contact with the leader entering the final chicane. Johnson made a complete stop to avoid a penalty for missing the chicane and crossed the finish line eighth.
- After the top-10 finish, Johnson was in a three-way tie in the point standings but was officially eliminated from the playoffs.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Starting Sunday’s Round of 16 finale in third, Bowman remained inside the top five for much of the opening segment. He had fallen to sixth before a late-stage caution, and on the ensuing restart he was shuffled down to ninth, which is where he would finish Stage 1. The result earned him two extra points.
- Bowman headed to pit road prior to the start of Stage 2 while many competitors stayed on the track. That put him in 29th for the green flag, though he made steady progress throughout the segment. By Lap 46 he was inside the top 10, and he climbed to eighth by the end of Stage 2. The result earned him three additional points.
- The No. 88 team once again headed to pit road between segments, but a quick stop allowed Bowman to gain four positions on pit road. Still, with many competitors on a different pit strategy, Bowman started the final segment outside of the top 20. By Lap 63, he was up to 16th. He headed back to pit road during a caution and lined up 24th for the ensuing restart. When the green flag dropped, he jumped up to 17th.
- With 25 laps to go, Bowman had climbed to 15th as he battled for the opportunity to advance to the Round of 12. Four laps later, the No. 88 team called Bowman to pit road for fresh tires and fuel. The strategy allowed him to climb back up through the ranks from outside the top 25. He found himself 11th when a red flag was displayed following a multiple-car incident with six laps remaining.
- When the race resumed, Bowman lined up fifth for the restart with three laps remaining. He picked up one more spot before the checkered flag waved, crossing the finish line fourth to advance to the Round of 12.