DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Alex Bowman led the way for Hendrick Motorsports in the 2023 DAYTONA 500.
The 29-year-old driver earned a fifth-place result in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. That stands as his best result to date in "The Great American Race." The top-five finish is the organization’s 30th top-five finish in this race – the most among all teams.
In addition to the top-five result, Bowman earned nine stage points thanks to his second-place finish in Stage 2. He also led 12 laps on the day. The Tucson, Arizona, native’s earned his third pole in six years for the event on Wednesday night and also was starting on the front row for a record sixth straight time.
"Proud of my team and glad we were able to make it out clean," Bowman said of his season-opening, points-paying result that leaves him fifth in the standings. "Starting the year off strong on the right foot gives us momentum. Not only here but at the Coliseum as well (where he finished fourth)."
The Hendrick Motorsports fleet put itself in good positions heading into the overtime finish.
On the second overtime attempt, Kyle Larson restarted on the front row in the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The 30-year-old fired off from the inside line but couldn’t quite get to the leader. He moved to the middle lane to try to get the lead but contact from Travis Pastrana sent him into the wall – leading to the end of the race as the leader had taken the white flag. The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion was scored in 18th at the finish.
"Felt like we had an opportunity to win there," Larson told reporters afterward. "I felt like I was going to get to the 47 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.). I wanted to stay committed to him, at least through (turns) one and two and down the backstretch. I definitely didn’t want to try and go for the lead as early as I did. I just had such a run that I didn’t know what to do with it. I thought if I got to him where I was going to get to him, it was just going to choke us up or cause a crash and we weren’t going to win. Wish I could play that over again."
William Byron worked his No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 into the top three late in the race. However, he was caught up in a 13-car incident following contact with Austin Dillon off of Turn 3 on lap 204 that ended his race, resulting in a 34th-place finish.
"We were trying to put ourselves in the right position and we were in a really good spot there with about two to go and running third before that caution (on Lap 199)," Byron said. "It seemed like when they did the teammate restart, (where Kyle Busch started on the outside of Dillon) it really checked up the bottom lane and I had made my bed of trying to take that lane to have momentum off of turn two."
Chase Elliott was involved in a nine-car incident near the end of stage two. He nearly avoided any damage before his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was collected by Erik Jones. The 2020 Cup Series champion finished the race in 38th.
"It looked like some guys got tangled up front." Elliott said. "Those of us in the back were just scattering to kind of miss it. It looked like the No. 5 (Larson) and the No. 43 (Jones) kind of went to the apron. By the time we got slowed up, they were coming back across the track and I was there first. It’s a bummer. Hate to end the day, but it is what it is."
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the 2023 DAYTONA 500 for first victory since 2017. The victory is the eighth for the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop in the prestigious event. The 212-lap race is the longest DAYTONA 500 in the sport's history.
Auto Club Speedway will host the second race of the 2023 Cup Series season on Sunday, Feb. 26, at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). That race marks the final one for the Fontana, California, track as a 2-mile facility and also serves as the first of three races in a row on the West Coast.
MORE: See the full 2023 schedule for the Cup Series
Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: Fifth
Race notes: Bowman started from the pole position and led nine of the opening 10 laps. He spent much of the first 35 laps running in the top 10. Coming to pit road for two right-side tires on lap 38, the driver had to wait on extra fuel and he had used more gas than most as he was leading the pack. That shuffled him to outside the top 20. He finished stage one in 28th.
Under caution for the stage break, Bowman pitted for four tires and fuel. He restarted in 21st on lap 72. Around the mid-point of the stage, Bowman found momentum on the bottom lane and moved into the top 15. He came down pit road for fuel only on lap 107 and entered the top 10 just nine laps later. Crew chief Blake Harris called for his driver to stay out under caution on lap 119. That set Bowman up to restart fourth with six laps left in the stage. Battling Ross Chastain for the stage win, Bowman finished second - .015 seconds behind his fellow Chevrolet – and earned nine stage points.
The Tucson, Arizona, native pitted for four tires and fuel during the stage break and came back down pit road to top off on fuel. Restarting 28th in the final stage, Bowman spun on lap 140 and had to pit for fresh tires. A close call with Noah Gragson on pit road was narrowly avoided. The Ally Racing driver restarted 31st on lap 144 and steadily inched forward. After stopping for fuel only on Lap 179, he was scored 15th at the fifth caution of the day on lap 183. He expertly dodged "The Big One" in the first overtime attempt to move into the top 10. Restarting on the outside lane for the second overtime attempt, Bowman drove into the top five for his best finish to date at the DAYTONA 500.
Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 18th
Race notes: Larson started on the front row and jumped to the lead on the inside lane on lap 1 before giving way to his teammate Bowman. He retook the lead on lap 11 for two laps and again on lap 21 for three laps. The 30-year-old driver made a nifty save early on when a push from reigning champion Joey Logano got him a bit too loose. He pitted for two right-side tires on lap 38 but the sequence of stops left him outside the top 20 as he finished the stage in 23rd.
During the stage break, Larson pitted for four tires and fuel. Restarting in 17th on lap 72, the Elk Grove, California, native worked his way into the top 10 on lap 96 with the bottom lane proving to be advantageous for him. On lap 107, Larson pitted from seventh for fuel only and re-entered the top five on lap 113. He drove through a little bit of grass on Lap 118 to avoid taking on damage from an incident involving teammate Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and several others. Pitting for four tires and fuel just after that, Larson finished the stage in 12th.
A fuel-only stop prior to the final stage helped the driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet gain seven spots on pit road. He restarted fifth for the final stage and quickly moved to third. Another fuel-only stop under caution on lap 140 saw Larson restart 18th. Crew chief Cliff Daniels hinted over the radio that the team may try to make it to the end on that tank. The 30-year-old methodically worked his way through the field and was scored in third on lap 178. Following the lap 188 restart, Larson was up to second with 10 laps to go before the inside line lost momentum. That brought him to the edge of the top 10 with eight laps in regulation and he was scored in eighth coming to the first overtime attempt. Teaming up fellow Chevrolet and eventual race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the team maneuvered themselves to the front of the field when another caution came out on lap 204. Larson chose to restart on the inside lane for the second overtime attempt. Larson moved to the middle to try and get the lead from Stenhouse Jr. However, contact with Travis Pastrana sent him into the wall and resulted in an 18th-place finish.
William Byron, No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 34th
Race notes: Byron started the race from the 21st position. He bid his time in the back of the top 20 before pitting for two right-side tires and fuel on Lap 38. Following the pit stop, he moved into the top 15 and was up to seventh on lap 52. A big pack shuffled the Charlotte, North Carolina, native out of position to score stage points late in the 65-lap segment and he finished stage one in 12th.
During the stage break, Byron pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. He restarted Stage 2 in eighth and used the outside lane to move up to fourth. The 25-year-old fell back to just outside the top 15 at the halfway point of the race. However, a fuel-only pit stop at lap 107 helped propel him into the top 10 just six laps later. Under caution for an incident involving his teammate Chase Elliott, Byron pitted for four tires and fuel in a 11.3-second stop (per Racing Insights). He restarted 11th in the outside lane with six laps to go in the stage and drove to seventh to end the stage. That earned him four stage points.
Ahead of the final stage, Byron stopped for fuel only and gained three spots on pit road. He restarted fourth on lap 138 but the outside lane didn’t quite get going and he slipped back to seventh. Following another fuel-only stop, Byron restarted 19th on lap 144. He stayed in the draft, moving into the top five as teams pitted for their planned final stop. Another fuel-only call from crew chief Rudy Fugle put Byron in third at the time of the lap 183 caution. He chose the bottom behind Joey Logano but his competitor’s bobble saw Byron move to the middle to avoid contact. That maneuver left him to fall to 13th with 11 laps to go in regulation, but the driver of the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet rebounded to get back into the top five with nine laps left in the scheduled 200-lap distance. Going with fellow Chevys Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon on the outside, Byron got around Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher for third. He was scored there at the time of the lap 199 caution and chose the inside line behind Dillon for the first overtime restart. Unfortunately, Byron got caught up in a 13-car incident off of Turn 3 that ended his race.
Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 38th
Race notes: Elliott started the event from the eighth position. He spent the opening 16 laps in the top 10. Using the inside line, the 27-year-old was in the top five on lap 22. As cars were trying to get to the bottom line to pit and making the line of cars longer, the driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet lost several spots. On lap 38, he pitted for two right-side tires and fuel and got back into the top five on lap 53. However, a pack of cars shuffled him back and he finished 17th in the opening stage.
During the stage break, Elliott pitted for four tires and fuel. The stage two restart saw the 2020 champion in 18th. He slid back a bit over the course of the run, with a stop for fuel only setting him up for a surge into the top 10 on lap 113. Things can change very quickly at Daytona International Speedway. Six laps later, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native was involved in a nine-car incident. His No. 9 Chevrolet was collected by Erik Jones in an incident that started with Kevin Harvick’s bump in the draft to Tyler Reddick that saw Reddick get loose and go into the wall. The damage to Elliott’s car proved to be too much for him to continue the race.