DOVER, Del. – Sunday’s 400-mile race at Dover International Speedway saw results across the board for Hendrick Motorsports.
Alex Bowman finished inside the top three in the Round of 12 opener, while Chase Elliott experienced a mechanical issue that resulted in a 38th-place finish. In between, Jimmie Johnson finished eighth and William Byron crossed the finish line in 13th.
“It didn’t really seem like anything was off, we were just kind of making laps and then obviously had a failure,” Elliott explained. “It’s an unfortunate way to start this round, for sure.”
The driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 said he views the setback as an opportunity – he’ll approach the next two races in the round as must-win situations.
“If you ever make it to Homestead, you’re going to have to win down there,” he said. “I guess it’s a good opportunity to practice here these next few weeks.”
After Sunday’s result, Elliott is currently seven points below the cut-line in 11th, while Bowman is now 17 points above the line in seventh.
In addition to his third-place result, Bowman picked up additional points Sunday with sixth-place finishes in both Stages 1 and 2, combining for a strong start to the second round of the playoffs.
“It was really good,” Bowman said of his No. 88 Cincinnati Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. “I felt like we struggled a little bit on the short run but really made up for it throughout the middle of the runs. Just so proud of my guys for keeping their heads on straight, staying focused on what we needed to stay focused on, and we’ve just got to continue moving forward.”
The third Hendrick Motorsports driver in the playoffs, Byron’s 13th-place Dover finish put him in eighth place in the standings, which would be the last driver to make it to the next round.
His race on Sunday was set back due to a speeding penalty on pit road that left him a lap down at the end of Stage 2. But he continued to press forward to gain as many positions as possible before the checkered flag, and his day was helped by picking up extra points with a top-10 finish in Stage 1.
“We just had a miscalculation of when we could accelerate out of our pit box,” Byron said of the penalty. “I thought we were fine on pit road speed to leave the box hard. That was a bummer, for sure. We had a pretty good car. We couldn’t really make many passes, but we were able to get from the back after having to start pretty close to the tail end. It just really hurt our day. But overall, the guys did a good job and got out of here with a decent points day, I guess. We’ll just have to go on strong next week.”
Johnson, meanwhile, was pleased to continue the No. 48 team’s momentum in the right direction on Sunday, which brought the team’s third consecutive top-10 finish.
He also earned extra points with top-10 finishes in both Stages 1 and 2 and knew his No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 had the speed to compete near the front all day long.
“I felt like we had a shot,” the driver said. “When we were in clean air, our lap times were great. Just as everyone experienced, it was really tough to pass. We had a few things that set us back and lost track position throughout the day. But we had a really fast race car. We were able to pass some, which I don’t think many could pass at all. All in all, it was a good day.”
Now, the teammates’ attention turns to Talladega Superspeedway for the second race of the Round of 12 in the playoffs. Earlier this season, Elliott found Victory Lane with Bowman right behind him in second. The organization will look for similar success this time around.
Be sure to catch every moment of the action this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.