BRISTOL, Tenn. – The thrilling nature of Bristol Motor Speedway was evident all afternoon Sunday, and one final restart with five laps remaining was a big one for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS jumped from fourth place to second on the restart, ultimately holding on to take home his second consecutive runner-up result.
"We got a lot of luck on the last several restarts starting on the outside and gained some spots just being on the right lane," said Earnhardt, who bounced back from an electrical problem that saw him fall two laps behind early in the race. "(No. 88 team crew chief) Greg (Ives) and those guys did a great job getting our laps back."
Just behind him was rookie Chase Elliott, who took the checkered flag in fourth – his second straight top-five finish.
"I just had a really good Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet," Elliott said. "It was a long day but definitely proud of the effort. We're chipping away."
Kasey Kahne crossed the finish line 17th and Jimmie Johnson finished 23rd.
Carl Edwards earned the victory.
Below is a detailed look at how all four Hendrick Motorsports teammates fared at Bristol.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 GREAT CLIPS CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Starting from the 11th position, Kahne fell back outside of the top 15 before beginning to make his way back up the standings. On Lap 67 he found 15th position, and he continued racing on the lead lap even as several competitors – and even some teammates – found themselves falling laps behind. He moved back to 11th on Lap 157 and shortly thereafter found the top 10 for the first time before a caution on Lap 187. At the midway point of the race, Kahne was battling in seventh position. He remained inside the top 10 and moved up to sixth before a restart on Lap 345 when he battled his way all the way up to third for a moment. He settled into sixth with less than 100 laps remaining. “Relax and get a good restart,” No. 5 team crew chief Keith Rodden relayed over the radio during a caution, and Kahne did just that, moving to fifth with less than 50 laps remaining. Traffic on another restart with 34 laps remaining pushed Kahne just outside of the top 10, however, and he settled into 11th. Through two more cautions down the stretch, Kahne left Bristol with a 17th-place finish.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 KELLEY BLUE BOOK CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Elliott started Sunday’s race beside Earnhardt in 19th, and by Lap 83 he had found the top 15. On Lap 110 he entered the top 10 and moved to ninth place just before a caution flag waved on Lap 117. He restarted just outside of the top 10, but found it again and was once again in ninth on Lap 157. Twenty laps later, however, he was forced to pit road for an unscheduled stop due to a loose wheel. It left him two laps down in 32nd, but thanks to multiple cautions, he was able to take two wave-arounds by staying on the track to return to the lead lap. “Fantastic job, buddy,” No. 24 team crew chief Alan Gustafson told Elliott over the radio as the rookie found 17th place on Lap 330. He found the top 15 on Lap 365 and found some speed from there, moving up to 10th just 20 laps later, and it took him just nine more laps to make it up to seventh. A big pass with 78 to go moved Elliott up to fifth, and another move as a competitor headed to pit road saw the rookie jump all the way up to third with 74 laps remaining. “You can do this,” Gustafson said to Elliott before a restart with 34 laps to go. When the green flag dropped, the rookie jumped from fourth to second, chasing down the leader. Two more late cautions, both of which saw Elliott restart on the inside as opposed to the preferred outside lane, cost the rookie position. He still held on for a fourth-place result, his second consecutive top-five finish.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Starting sixth, Johnson quickly moved into the top five and continued battling inside the top 10 until he was penalized for speeding on pit road during a caution on Lap 52. That placed him back outside the top 30, and he spent the next chunk of the race battling back. After he reentered the top 20 at Lap 100, Johnson reported that the car was “well-balanced, I just have nowhere to go.” But on Lap 155 he found the top 15 and moved into the top 10 by a restart on Lap 194. Three laps later he was inside the top five, and he was third at the halfway point of the race. That’s where he was running when a loose wheel forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop just past Lap 300, falling two laps down in the 31st position. When a caution flag waved 30 laps later, he stayed on the track to regain one of the laps. From there, he battled to 26th on Lap 260, continuing to race with the competitor in the free-pass position just ahead of him. In the process, however, the leaders passed him once again to put him two laps behind. Johnson took a wave-around once again and restarted one lap down in 25th with 84 laps remaining. He continued to push ahead, finding 22nd on a restart with 34 laps remaining. He ultimately finished 23rd.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Earnhardt rolled off the grid 20th, but when the green flag dropped, he couldn’t get rolling. The driver reported that his No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS had no power, so he was forced to head to pit road. After cycling the ECU, he returned to the track in 40th position down two laps. When a caution flag waved on Lap 52, Earnhardt stayed on the track to take the wave-around and regain one lap. He was able to pit during the next caution, and when one more caution waved on Lap 117, he took another wave-around and move back onto the lead lap. From there, he got to work through the field, finding the top 10 by Lap 216. He remained in the top 10 until a caution when some competitors remained on the track and he restarted in 13th on Lap 274. He kept battling, however, finding 10th once again by Lap 330 and continuing to push through the field. By Lap 400 he found eighth just behind Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kahne and Elliott. He found sixth place on a restart with 34 laps to go. He continued racing up to fourth for one final restart with five laps remaining and he quickly jumped up to second place. He held on for his second consecutive runner-up result.