AVONDALE, Ariz. – Sunday at ISM Raceway, Chase Elliott led the field on multiple occasions in an effort to advance to the Championship 4 in the Round of 8 finale in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
With fewer than 50 laps remaining, however, Elliott was caught up in a multiple-car incident while running inside the top 10 and the resulting damage kept him from challenging for the win, ending his playoff run.
William Byron led the Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the checkered flag in ninth, capturing his fourth top-10 finish of the season. In the process, he earned the Cup Series rookie of the year honors.
Jimmie Johnson was next to the line in 15th.
Elliott ultimately finished 23rd, and Alex Bowman was also involved in a late-race incident and was scored 30th.
Kyle Busch captured the win.
Below is a closer look at how all four Hendrick Motorsports teammates fared Sunday at ISM Raceway.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Elliott started Sunday’s race on the outside pole, and he held that position for the entirety of Stage 1 until there were just two laps remaining. Hot on the heels of the leader, Elliott passed Kevin Harvick when the No. 4 car experienced a flat tire, and he held the lead to win Stage 1. The result earned him 10 critical points as he battled to make the Championship 4 in the final race of the Round of 8.
- Quick work by the No. 9 team on pit road between segments allowed Elliott to begin Stage 2 as the leader once again. But shortly after the green flag flew, he fell back to second and had to work to hold off a number of competitors to maintain the runner-up position. With 38 laps to go in the second segment, he was passed to drop to third.
- With 17 laps to go in Stage 2, a caution flag flew and Elliott headed to pit road while some competitors stayed out. That put him in 11th for the restart with 10 laps remaining in the segment. He moved up to seventh before the green-checkered flag waved, picking up four extra points.
- Prior to the start of the final segment, Elliott headed back to pit road for fresh right-side tires and a wedge adjustment. He took the green flag in fifth, and by Lap 200 he was up to third. Twenty-one laps later, he raced his way into second, and just four laps later he had retaken the race lead. Shortly thereafter, competitors began making green-flag pit stops while Elliott remained on the track – and then a caution flag waved, meaning Elliott didn’t have to make his stop under green-flag conditions.
- Elliott was penalized for speeding on pit road during the caution, however, putting him at the rear of the field. With 59 laps to go, he moved back into the top 10, and when a caution flag waved with 50 laps to go, he headed to pit road for right-side tires only. When the race went green once again, Elliott lined up seventh.
- On the restart, two competitors were involved in an incident just ahead of Elliott, and he got caught in the collateral damage. The No. 9 car took damage to the right side, requiring Elliott to head to pit road for repairs. He returned to the track down three laps outside of the top 20.
- Elliott ultimately finished the race 23rd, missing the cut to advance to the Championship 4.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 HERTZ CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Beginning Sunday’s race in 19th, Byron picked up two positions in Stage 1 to finish the opening segment in 17th.
- In Stage 2, Byron moved up to 14th by Lap 120. When a caution flag flew with 17 laps remaining in the segment, the No. 24 team elected to keep Byron on the track, moving the driver up to second for the ensuing restart. On older tires, he began to fall back after the restart with 10 laps to go, but held on for a top-10 Stage 2 finish, taking the green-checkered flag in ninth to earn two extra points.
- Byron lined up 15th for the restart to begin the final segment, and he began to work his way toward the top 10, which he found on Lap 220. He remained on the track while competitors headed to pit road for green-flag stops and was rewarded when a caution flag flew. After heading to pit road during the caution, he lined up fourth for the ensuing restart. He continued to battle inside the top five until a caution flag flew with 50 laps to go. Following a pit stop, he lined up 10th for the restart, but the No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 incurred some damage during a multiple-car incident shortly after the green flag waved.
- With 37 laps to go, Byron lined up 13th for the restart. He continued to race forward for the remainder of the race, crossing the finish line ninth for his fourth top-10 finish of the season. He clinched NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year honors in the process.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S POWER OF PRIDE CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Rolling off the grid 20th, Johnson worked his way past four competitors in the opening segment of Sunday’s race, finishing Stage 1 in 16th.
- Johnson battled on the verge of the top 15 for much of the second segment, running 17th at Lap 120. When a caution flag waved with 17 laps to go in the segment, Johnson stayed on the track to restart fourth. On older tires, however, he fell back after the green flag waved once again with 10 laps remaining in Stage 2. He took the green-checkered flag in 13th.
- Johnson began the final segment in that same position and continued to battle just outside of the top 10 until he made a green-flag pit stop just before a caution flag waved. That trapped him outside of the top 15, but he recovered to find 15th before another caution with 50 laps to go.
- Johnson restarted 13th following the caution, which also brought out a red flag. Through another caution – that brought out another red flag – he continued to battle inside the top 15 until taking the checkered flag in 15th.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman took the green flag in fifth Sunday afternoon, and throughout the opening segment he maintained his top-10 position. He took the green-checkered flag at the end of Stage 1 in ninth, earning two extra points.
- Bowman continued to battle in and around the top 10 for much of Stage 2, running eighth at Lap 120. When a caution flag waved with 17 laps to go in the segment, Bowman headed to pit road, but the No. 88 team was hit with a penalty for an uncontrolled tire. That put Bowman back in 19th for the ensuing restart, though he gained five positions in the final 10 laps of the segment to finish Stage 2 in 14th.
- In the final segment, Bowman took the green flag in eighth and battled inside the top 10 until making a green-flag pit stop. A caution flag flew shortly thereafter, trapping Bowman back in 15th, but he pressed back toward the top 10 before another caution flag waved with 50 laps to go.
- Bowman restarted ninth on the other side of the caution, but the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 incurred some damage during a multiple-car incident shortly after the green flag waved. The No. 88 team repaired the damage and he returned to the track in 15th. With 26 laps to go, however, the No. 88 Chevy spun toward the wall and the resulting damage ended Bowman’s day. He was scored 30th.