SONOMA, Calif. – Chase Elliott and William Byron notched top-10 finishes to lead the way for Hendrick Motorsports at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday.
Elliott rebounded from a pit road penalty near the end of stage two to finish eighth in the race. He holds a 16-point advantage in the standings over Ross Chastain and now has 10 top 10s on the season.
Byron overcame some early woes for a ninth-place finish in the 110-lap event. The top-10 result was the first for the driver of the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 since his victory at Martinsville Speedway – eight races ago. The top-10 finish was Byron’s first at the California road course.
"Fought hard all day and got the balance right and the second half of the race was good," Byron said of his day. "Happy with that and going into the off week with some good momentum."
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Kyle Larson won stage one of the race for his second stage win of the season. However, a loose wheel in the final stage would hinder the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet team's progress and he would finish in 15th. Larson’s right-front tire came off following a pit stop just past the midway point of the final stage. Any potential penalties from that will be announced by NASCAR early this week.
Alex Bowman spent a good amount of the day in the top 10 but had to veer off course to avoid a spinning Kyle Busch late in the final stage. He would go on to finish 16th in the second road course race of the 2022 season.
Daniel Suarez won his first Cup Series race – making it 12 different winners through the first 16 races of the season.
While the organization did not win, the team did make history in stage two. Hendrick Motorsports crossed the 100,000 miles led mark in the Cup Series thanks to Larson and Elliott leading the first 52 laps of the race. The organization entered the day needing to lead 50 laps to be the first Cup team to cross that milestone.
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Following an off weekend, the Cup Series will resume its 2022 schedule with a race at Nashville Superspeedway on June 26. The Ally 400 will be televised at 5 p.m. ET on NBC – the first race of the NBC/USA Network portion of the slate. MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will also broadcast the event.
Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: Eighth
Stage one: Elliott opened the event from the front row as he started second. The road course ace ran right behind his teammate Kyle Larson for much of the run. Under caution, Elliott radioed that he was happy with the car and just trying to get in a rhythm. Crew chief Alan Gustafson kept the No. 9 Chevrolet out under the race’s first caution and Elliott would restart second on lap 14. He would maintain that position until lap 22 when Chris Buescher passed him for second. From third, Elliott would pit on lap 24 for service and ultimately finish the stage in 12th.
Stage two: By pitting prior to the end of stage one, Elliott positioned himself to assume the lead following pit stops under the stage break. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native would continue to hold the top spot over Buescher. Entering this race, he had led just 16 laps in five starts at this track but in stage two, Elliott led 26 laps. On lap 53, he would give up the lead to pit prior to the stage break. He had to back up in the pits for the team to get the left rear tight. However, that service was done outside of the pit box and he would be penalized prior to the final stage by having to start at the rear of the field.
Final stage: After serving his penalty, Elliott restarted 34th for the final stage and picked off five spots in the first lap of the run. By lap 66, he was back in the top 25 as he looked to march back to the front of the field. On lap 74, the 2020 champion was back in the top 20. On lap 76, Elliott was called to pit road by Gustafson for four tires and fuel as he would be the first of the Hendrick Motorsports cars to pit in the final stage. The move to pit a bit earlier than most would help as after a caution he restarted 12th on lap 88. A lap later, Elliott was back in the top 10 in eighth. On lap 98, he would make his way around Chase Briscoe for seventh. He would hold that position for the next 10 laps before losing the spot to Ross Chastain with two laps to go.
William Byron, No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: Ninth
Stage one: Byron lined up 20th for Sunday’s race. Two laps into the race, he was up into the top 15. In the opening seven laps, Byron was one of the biggest movers as he jumped seven spots to 13th. Under caution on lap 11, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native radioed in that he thought he fired off well, but was just a bit tight with the front. Crew chief Rudy Fugle made a strategy move to bring Byron down pit road under the lap 11 caution for four tires and fuel. He was one of a handful of cars to pit under this yellow and he would restart 26th on lap 14. After making some early gains, Byron lost a few spots to avoid hitting the No. 43 of Erik Jones, who had spun out on lap 16. On lap 23, Byron pitted again with a ton of cars before finishing the stage in 27th.
Stage two: By pitting before the end of stage one, Byron would stay out to restart stage two in 15th. He dropped a few spots in the opening laps of this next run and radioed in that he “got ran over” while running 17th. He passed two-time Sonoma winner Martin Truex Jr. for 18th on lap 42. During the run, he reported that he was lacking grip in the rear tires. On lap 53, Byron pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustment. He would finish the stage in 27th.
Final stage: Byron began the final stage in the 15th position. After holding down a top-12 position for a good deal of the run, the 24-year-old pitted on lap 81 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Byron would restart 14th on lap 88 and a lap later he would be in the top 10. He would pick off another spot a lap later to run in ninth. Fugle reminded Byron early in the run to “take care of your stuff here.” Just like his teammate Chase Elliott did, Byron got around Chase Briscoe for eighth. A few laps later, he would lose the spot to Ross Chastain and remain in ninth through the end of the race.
Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 15th
Stage one: Larson started the race from the pole position. By lap 7, he had opened up a two-second lead on teammate Chase Elliott. The reigning champion stayed out under the lap 11 caution to maintain the point position. During the yellow flag, Larson said the car was “pretty good. Good through (turns) 7 and 11. Forward drive is good compared to yesterday." He would lead the field to the lap 14 restart with Elliott in close pursuit. Larson would stay out, while a lot of others pitted, to lead the stage wire to wire to score his second stage win of the season.
Stage two: Larson would pit under the stage break for four tires and fuel but that would see him start back in traffic for the first time in the race. He would start stage two in 24th. Within three laps of the run, he was back in the top 20 and was really the only driver that pitted under the stage break to move his way up. On lap 39, he took a spot in the top 15 with a pass on road course specialist Joey Hand and continued to march towards the top 10. Larson would pit from 14th on lap 53. He would finish the stage in 21st.
Final stage: Larson started the final stage in 12th and one lap later was in the top 10. He would get by Austin Dillon on the next lap for ninth and made some contact with Ross Chastain as he battled to get to eighth. On lap 73, he got passed by teammate Alex Bowman to drop back to 10th. The defending Sonoma winner would pit from fourth on lap 83 for service. The caution came out on lap 84 after Larson’s right front tire came completely off. He would come back down for service under caution for new tires. Larson would restart 32nd on lap 88 and on lap 93, he would rejoin the top 20. On lap 104, Larson would be back in the top 15 and he would ultimately finish 15th.
Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally/Better Together Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 16th
Stage one: Bowman took the grid from the 19th starting spot. A pass on Joey Hand on lap 9 gave the spring Las Vegas Motor Speedway winner his original starting spot back. Under the race’s first caution, Bowman stayed out to restart 15th on lap 14. From 15th, Bowman pitted on lap 23 for a schedule green-flag pit stop. He would finish the stage in 21st-place.
Stage two: Bowman started stage two in 10th – gaining track position from pitting prior to the end of stage one so that he could start towards the front in this stage. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet took ninth after the first lap of the run. He would pick off another spot in the top 10 with a pass on Cole Custer for eighth. He would lose the spot to Ryan Blaney a few laps later as he moved back to ninth. On lap 53, Bowman came down pit road from ninth for a scheduled pit stop prior to the end of stage. He would finish the stage in 17th.
Final stage: Bowman restarted the final stage in the top 10 in ninth and after momentarily falling out of the top 10, he would pass Austin Dillon to rejoin the top 10 on lap 62. On lap 73, the Tucson, Arizona, native would pass teammate Kyle Larson for ninth. Gaining momentum off of turn 11, Bowman was able to pass Ross Chastain for sixth on lap 80. Just after that he would be called down pit road by crew chief Greg Ives for fresh tires and fuel. Following a caution, Bowman would restart in 10th on lap 88. However, shortly after the restart, he had to veer off course to avoid the spinning Kyle Busch and lost a ton of track position before resettling in 28th. The 29-year-old would move forward again, rejoining the top 20 on lap 97 and he would pick off a few more spots to finish 16th.