CONCORD, N.C. -- The ending of the Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway Thursday night proved to be a thrilling ride, with teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman vying for the lead with less than 25 laps to go.
Both Hendrick Motorsports drivers ended up slipping back in the final laps of the race - Bowman placed eighth, while Byron finished in 10th.
Despite losing the lead, the top-10 finish was necessary for Byron to stay alive in the playoff hunt.
“It was a solid finish for us – we needed that for the playoffs," he said. "We started the race way off. We were really loose – just really struggling. The guys, Keith (Rodden, filling in as crew chief) and everybody made a lot of great adjustments throughout the race. It really got us in a position where we could attack."
In the middle of the third stage, Byron and the No. 24 crew opted to stay out when the majority of the field headed to pit road. He restarted in first and held off the competition on much older tires.
Rodden made a gamble when Byron headed to pit road and only changed out two tires. He and Bowman were jockeying for the lead at this point but both teammates were shuffled back.
"Unfortunately, the two tires didn’t really work out for us there at the end," Byron said. "I think we just had too many laps on the left side and struggled there. But overall, I was really happy with probably 40 to go in the race. I thought we were in a really good position leading the race. We’ll take a top-10 with what we had there at the end and move forward to the next race.”
For Bowman, the ending of the race was frustrating after running in the front, although he vastly improved from his Stage 2 performance.
"We threw about every adjustment at our Camaro that we possibly could. Thankfully, we were able to finally get it a little better there towards the end and go back towards the front a little bit," he said. "Getting a good, solid finish this week was good and a good momentum-builder back in the right direction."