AVONDALE, Ariz. – The four Hendrick Motorsports drivers didn’t let an interesting night of qualifying keep them from performing in Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway.
All four teams made impressive gains in the first half of the 312-lap race, with Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne advancing through the ranks from the rear of the field.
Looking for a second consecutive win at Phoenix, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran up front all afternoon and was the leading Hendrick Motorsports finisher in fifth.
Rookie Chase Elliott ran a solid race, running within the top 10 the majority of the afternoon with his veteran teammates, ultimately finishing eighth.
Johnson took home an 11th-place result, and Kahne finished 22nd.
Below, take a look at how all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers fared in Sunday’s race.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 GREAT CLIPS CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: An engine issue during qualifying sent Kahne to the rear of the field for the start of Sunday’s race. However, he didn’t let that stop him. He drove his No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS up through the field, running inside the top 15 for the majority of the first half of the race. Falling just one spot outside the top 15, Kahne held steady in 16th through a solid green-flag run as well as the fourth caution of the race. With less than 70 laps remaining, he drove back inside the top 15 where he was running when he was caught in an incident with less than 10 laps to go. The No. 5 team made repairs on pit road and Kahne returned to the track, taking home a 22nd-place finish.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: The highest starting Hendrick Motorsports driver, Elliott took the green flag in 17th and steadily climbed higher in the ranks, breaking inside the top 10 just before the 100-lap mark. Elliott raced with teammates Johnson and Earnhardt within the top 10 through two green-flag runs. He followed Johnson around a competitor and into the top five on Lap 205. His No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS looking very strong throughout the race, Elliott fell back within the top 10 following a caution with 86 laps remaining but regained positions to be the second-running Hendrick Motorsports car in sixth with 43 laps to go. He ultimately finished eighth.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S PROSERVICES CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: After a qualifying incident sent Johnson to his backup car for Sunday’s race, the driver started at the rear of the field. However, by lap 25, Johnson had already passed half of the field, finding himself inside the top 20. Johnson continued to climb throughout the first run of the race, passing the top-15 mark and then the top-10 boundary by Lap 85. On a mission, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s ProServices Chevrolet SS crossed inside the top-five after a Lap 105 caution. Johnson drove his way up to third, his backup car holding strong through the green-flag runs. Following the fourth caution of the race with 86 laps remaining, Johnson drove off pit road and restarted ninth. He took the checkered flag 11th.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Earnhardt got to work as soon as the green flag dropped, working his way from the 24th starting position to inside the top five by Lap 50. A Lap 53 caution and a speedy pit stop by the No. 88 team allowed Earnhardt to gain one position on pit road and he restarted in fourth. With the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS dialed in, Earnhardt got a great restart, jumping to second after taking the green flag again on Lap 59 and ultimately, passing for the lead on Lap 75. Earnhardt held the lead until a caution was brought out after the 100-lap mark, after which the No. 88 Chevy restarted in third. Earnhardt fell outside the top five after the third caution of the race but continued to make gains, finding himself leading his teammates in third with 40 laps remaining. He remained in the top five and finished fifth.