DARLINGTON, S.C. – On a night that celebrated history, Dale Earnhardt Jr. led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the checkered flag at Darlington Raceway.
Earnhardt started outside of the top 20 but battled all the way to an eighth-place result.
Kasey Kahne was next across the finish line in 12th, followed by Jeff Gordon in 16th and Jimmie Johnson in 19th.
Chase Elliott’s final Sprint Cup Series race of 2015 came to an early close when his No. 25 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS suffered a tire issue that ended his day. He was scored 41st.
Carl Edwards took home the win.
Below is a look at how all five Hendrick Motorsports drivers fared in Sunday night’s Southern 500.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 HENDRICKRIDEALONG.COM CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Kahne started Sunday night’s race 15th, and he continued to run inside the top 20 until a caution was thrown for debris on Lap 61. The No. 5 team elected for just two tires during the ensuing pit stop, and Kahne ultimately won the race off of pit road to return to the track in second as one competitor stayed off of pit road. But Kahne quickly jumped to the lead on the restart and led two laps before cars with four tires began to catch him and he lost the lad. In addition, the No. 5 car suffered a tire rub that caused Kahne to drop back outside the top 20. It forced him to pit road, and at Lap 150, Kahne found himself a lap down in 30th, battling for the Lucky Dog position. On Lap 188 in 29th, Kahne gained the free pass when a caution flag flew, putting him back on the lead lap. From there he continued to climb in the standings, moving up to 13th on Lap 220. After moving up as far as eighth at Lap 253, Kahne fell back in the pack, riding in 27th on Lap 300. Still, he continued battling, finding 15th place on Lap 330. Twenty laps later, he moved into 14th, and after a pit stop during a caution on Lap 355, Kahne restarted 10th with eight laps remaining. He finished 12th.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 3M CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Gordon began his final Southern 500 inside the top five, which is where he remained through the second caution of the race. He returned to the track in sixth, and even when he fell just outside of the top five, he kept up his top-10 position. At Lap 178, he once again cracked the top five, but on Lap 211 he was outside of the top 10 in 14th. Within seven laps, however, he was back into the 10th position. By Lap 253, he was once again inside the top five in fourth place. Gordon continued running inside the top 10 and racing on the verge of the top-five, running in fifth on Lap 300. Thirty laps later, the back-and-forth feel of the race left Gordon in 12th. After a pit stop during a caution on Lap 355, Gordon restarted 16th with eight laps remaining. He finished 16th.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 25 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Elliott began Sunday’s race from the back of the pack after changing a gear, and on Lap 7 he was caught up in an incident that happened just ahead of him. But he was able to remain on the track and continue moving up the field. Before Lap 100, Elliott cracked the top 25. At Lap 115, he was the biggest mover of the race to that point in 22nd, and at Lap 120 he had made his way into the top 20. Due to pit strategy on Lap 210, Elliott restarted fourth, though he fell back outside of the top 20. On Lap 229, Elliott reported that he blew a right-front tire and he made contact with the wall. The No. 25 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS was towed to the garage. Elliott was ultimately scored 41st.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Johnson began Sunday night’s race just inside the top 20, and after the first caution flag of the race, began working his way through the field. By a caution for debris on Lap 61, Johnson was up to 11th, and on Lap 75 he cracked the top 10. At Lap 133, Johnson spun during a restart, but did not make any contact with the wall or a competitor, allowing him to remain on the track. He recovered and remained inside the top 15. On Lap 215, Johnson made his way up to seventh, and five laps later he was inside the top five in fourth. Johnson held on to a top-10 position even after falling out of the top five, settling into 10th on Lap 260. Johnson continued battling in and around the top 10, finding 11th on Lap 300. Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS suffered minor damage on pit road, but it caused him to begin losing position, and he lost a lap to the leader, falling back to 26th. But when a caution flag waved on Lap 355, he was the Lucky Dog, moving back to the lead lap. After heading to pit road during the caution, Johnson restarted 26th with eight laps to go. He finished 19th.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 VALVOLINE CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Earnhardt rolled off the grid 26th, but quickly jumped inside the top 20 before 30 laps elapsed. By Lap 75, he was up to 13th, and on a restart at Lap 115, Earnhardt had cracked the top 10 in ninth. At Lap 150, Earnhardt remained inside the top 15, and he had settled into 15th once again on Lap 215. The driver of the No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet SS kept fighting forward, racing all the way to sixth on Lap 253. He continued racing near the top five, finding seventh on Lap 300. Earnhardt continued racing inside the top 10 down the stretch, moving up to eighth on Lap 350. Following a pit stop during a caution just five laps later, Earnhardt restarted 11th with eight laps to go. He finished eighth.