KANSAS CITY, Kan. – It took a thrilling sprint to the checkered flag in overtime to determine a winner Saturday night at Kansas Speedway. With 23 lead changes and 12 different leaders, there was plenty of action all race long.
In the end, Alex Bowman came up just short of a win, finishing second for the third race in a row. He becomes the first driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to finish second in three straight races prior to capturing his first win.
Just behind Bowman were teammates Chase Elliott, who finished fourth, and Jimmie Johnson, who earned a sixth-place result. William Byron took the checkered flag in 20th.
Bowman and Elliott combined to lead 108 laps in the event and were battling at the front of the field as the laps wound down. But, ultimately, it was Brad Keselowski who would take home the win.
“It's great to be racing a teammate for the lead, I think that's signs of progress, so hopefully we can keep going in that direction,” Elliott said. “Hate to give it away to somebody else, (Bowman) and I were pacing it there at the end. But, it happens. We'll just work harder."
Below is a closer look at how Saturday’s race unfolded for the Hendrick Motorsports teammates at Kansas.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Due to inspection issues, Elliott started Saturday’s race at the rear of the field. When the green flag waved, the driver got to work quickly working his way through the field. By Lap 24 he was inside the top 15, and thanks to quick work by the No. 9 team during a competition caution, he returned to the track inside the top 10 and raced his way into the top five. During a caution late in the stage, Elliott stayed on the track to take over the race lead. He led 10 laps before finishing the opening segment in second, picking up nine extra points.
- Stage 2 saw Elliott take the green flag inside the top 10, and he steadily climbed his way forward throughout the segment even through a cycle of green-flag pit stops. At Lap 145, Elliott took over the race lead once again, and he held it through the green-checkered flag to win Stage 2, earing 10 extra points and one playoff point.
- With only 100 laps left under the lights at Kansas Speedway, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers were inside the top-20 with Elliott in sixth. He positioned himself inside the top-five early in the final segment. When a caution flag waved midway through the stage, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet headed to pit road, and quick work by the No. 9 crew had the driver starting in second behind teammate Bowman. When the green flag waved, Elliott accelerated into the lead. He and Bowman continued to battle, alternating the lead until Elliott fell back in traffic while maintaining a top-five spot. When a caution flag forced overtime, Elliott continued to battle inside the top five through the checkered flag and he finished fourth.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 UNIFIRST CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Byron took the green flag in third after drivers ahead of him were sent to the rear of the field due to inspection issues. He capitalized on that position, maintaining a top-five spot for much of the early portion of Stage 1. On Lap 23, Byron was vying for the lead as he held second place. Quick work by the No. 24 team on a two-tire stop during the competition caution at Lap 30 allowed Byron to return to the track in the race lead. After leading four laps, he fell back in traffic before a caution on Lap 60. During the ensuing pit stop, the No. 24 team was penalized for removing equipment from the pit box when the jack got caught on the No. 24 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Byron returned to the track in 30th but worked his way past competitors to finish Stage 1 in 21st.
- Following the first stage, the UniFirst Chevy took four tires and fuel at the stage break. Byron was able to pick up six spots and begin Stage 2 in 15th. By Lap 116, the No. 24 car was in 14th. When green-flag pit stops cycled through for the field, Byron was running just outside the top 10 in 11th. He continued to battle before finishing the segment in 11th.
- Byron started the final segment in 13th after receiving some adjustments, four tires and fuel during the stage break. The driver was reporting possible damage on the fender and a loose car, causing him to fall to 18th. Just 59 laps remained in the race and green-flag stops began to cycle through. On Lap 214, the UniFirst Chevrolet headed to pit road. A caution on Lap 217 trapped the driver two laps behind the leader, but he was able to take a wave around to gain one of the laps back in 21st. Byron continued to hold position remaining one lap down. In overtime, the checkered flag waved with Byron in 20th.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Johnson took the green flag in 12th. Throughout the first 20 laps of the race, he battled on the verge of the top 10. At the first caution of the race, the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 received two tires, allowing Johnson to return to the track just outside the top five in sixth. Johnson, however, reported his machine was feeling tight. As a result, he began to drop in position to 18th by Lap 46. As the final laps of the stage came to a close, Johnson remained inside the top 20, finishing the stage in 19th.
- Johnson took four tires and fuel on pit road during the stage break. When he took the green flag, he was 23rd. He continued to battle the handling of his car throughout the segment, finishing Stage 2 in 20th.
- At the start of the final segment, Johnson was 22nd. Able to advance through the field, the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 had moved to 17th on Lap 190. With fewer than 70 laps remaining, he had pushed all the way up to 12th before making a green-flag pit stop. A caution flag waved before every car had made a green-flag stop, trapping Johnson a lap down before he took a wave around to return to the lead lap. When a caution flag waved with 27 laps to go, the driver was running 13th, but when the race went green once again, Johnson got to work. The driver made major gains, advancing to sixth. With 10 laps to go he had moved inside the top five to fourth. When the race went to overtime, Johnson narrowly missed a top-five finish, taking the checkered flag in sixth.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman rolled off the grid in fifth. As drivers took off at the start of the race, the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was able to maintain a top-10 position. During the competition caution, the No. 88 team opted for two tires and fuel, allowing Bowman to return to the track inside the top five in fourth. He continued to push forward until a caution at Lap 60, but he was forced to pit twice due to a loose lug nut. The issue caused the driver to return to the track in 29th. Able to gain position in the closing laps of the stage, Bowman finished Stage 1 in 14th.
- Bowman started Stage 2 in 10th. Racing past competitors, the driver had his Chevrolet in fifth by Lap 102. During a green-flag pit stop, the No. 88 machine received four tires and fuel. After green-flag stops cycled through on Lap 150, Bowman was scored fourth. Able to hold that position through the end of the stage, Bowman took the green-checkered flag in fourth, earning seven more points.
- The final segment saw the driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevy in fourth. Able to advance, he quickly moved to second on Lap 173. Seven laps later, Bowman took the lead. Only 65 laps remained in the race and the driver continued to lead the field as he maneuvered through lapped traffic. Bowman began to separate himself as the leader before a caution flag waved, and it looked as if he would return to the track in second before it was announced that the new leader had received a pit road penalty. That moved Bowman back to the lead for the restart. The final laps saw multiple lead changes, including stints by Bowman and teammate Elliott, but Bowman dropped to third just as a caution flag in the final four laps of the race made things even more interesting, sending the event to overtime. In the extra frame, the No. 88 car advanced one position to finish in second place for the third race in a row.