HAMPTON, Ga. – Alex Bowman was the highest finisher for Hendrick Motorsports in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

Bowman’s 14th-place finish at the 1.54-mile track snapped his run of four straight top-10 finishes to open the season. The 29-year-old spent most of the final stage in the top 10 and was on the front row for the final restart that took place on lap 217. 

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Josh Berry placed 18th in the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 as he was filling in for Chase Elliott. Berry got caught up in a final stage incident but was able to continue on after multiple repairs. Earlier this month, Elliott had successful surgery on his fractured tibia and is expected to be out approximately four more weeks following this race.

Separate incidents in the final stage brought an end to Kyle Larson and William Byron’s races. Larson, who was making his 300th Cup Series start, had nowhere to go while running second when then-leader Aric Almirola blew a tire on lap 210. The No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 suffered major damage and finished the day in 31st.

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Byron entered the race as the defending race winner at Atlanta and with two straight victories on the 2023 season. While running in the top five, the driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was caught in a multi-car incident on lap 191. Byron got caught in no man’s land as the wreck occurred right around him. He finished the race in 32nd. 

Following penalties assessed coming out of the Phoenix Raceway weekend, the organization decided not to ask for a deferral on personnel suspensions. For this weekend’s race, Kevin Meendering (No. 5), Tom Gray (No. 9), Brian Campe (No. 24) and Greg Ives (No. 48) filled in as crew chiefs.

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Joey Logano got the victory and is the fourth different winner in 2023. Byron is the only driver with multiple wins this season. 

The Cup Series will have its first of six road course races this season at Circuit of The Americas on Sunday, March 26, at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). Elliott won the inaugural race at the 20-turn Austin, Texas, facility in 2021.

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Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Where he finished: 14th

Race notes: Bowman started 15th and gained three spots before the lap 12 caution. He told interim crew chief Greg Ives that he felt tire chatter when the car took off, but that it was getting better. After getting caught on the bottom lane, he fell back to 19th. Bowman was quiet on the radio as the 60-lap opening stage drew to a close. The 29-year-old gained several spots in the late going to finish the stage in 14th. He told the team that the longer the run, the better the car gets. 

Under the yellow for the stage break, the No. 48 knocked out a strong pit stop of four tires and fuel. Bowman restarted stage two from the 11th position and entered the top 10 for the first time on lap 80. The field spread out a bit and went single file for a lengthy period. Pitting from fourth on lap 137, Bowman received fuel only in the No. 48 Chevrolet. He cycled out in seventh and navigated lap traffic nicely to move into the top five with five to go in the stage. Following Austin Cindric in the closing lap of stage two, Bowman grabbed third place. 

During the caution ahead of the final stage, Bowman received four tires and fuel on his car, but had to wait a little longer as the team packed the car full of fuel. He restarted fifth in the stage but got shuffled back after the restart all the way to 22nd. Avoid a big wreck on lap 191, Bowman found himself scored in 12th. Ives brought the driver down pit road for right-side tires and fuel. This positioned the driver to restart inside the top 10 on lap 200. Four laps later, Bowman was inside the top five and working the inside lane. He barely missed getting caught up in a lap 210 caution that ensnared teammate Kyle Larson, but Bowman did report he got clipped in the right rear. However, he stayed out and restarted on the front row next to Brad Keselowski with 44 laps left. While he got hung out on the outside and fell back to 14th on lap 223, he charged back into the top 10 on lap 237. The rest of the run saw him racing in the eighth through 11th positions before a late surge from behind in the final lap. He finished the race in 14th.

Josh Berry, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Where he finished: 18th

Race notes: Berry started 21st and was scored there when the first caution came out on lap 11. With this being his first race on a superspeedway track in the Next Gen car, there was a bit of a feeling out process. He moved to the back of the pack around the midpoint of the stage and dropped to the tail of the main pack with 15 to go in the stage. Berry finished stage one in 28th. 

Under yellow for the stage break, Berry pitted for four tires and fuel before restarting from 25th on lap 68. He steadily took the lessons he was learning and applied them over the first run of the stage. On lap 100, Berry was up to 18th and joined the top 15 on lap 127. The team under the leadership of interim crew chief Tom Gray, elected to run longer than most. Berry pitted from third on lap 138 – stopping for fuel only. He cycled out to 10th with spotter Eddie D’Hondt telling him “good execution there. That worked out nice.” Berry battled Corey LaJoie for the final stage point position but LaJoie got by him with two laps to go in the stage. Berry finished stage two in 11th. 

During the stage break, Berry stopped on pit road for four tires and fuel. After restarting 17th, he made moves in the pack to get back into the top 10, reaching as high as eighth on lap 183. Berry was involved in a multi-car incident on lap 191 where the No. 9 Chevrolet received damage after hitting into the back of Chris Buescher and the left side of teammate William Byron’s car.  Berry pitted several times under caution for repairs and the team was able to keep him on the lead lap. D'Hondt noted some tire smoke on the car around lap 200 and Berry relayed that the car felt better after the last repairs. He jumped into the top 20 over the final run and finished 18th.

Kyle Larson, No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Where he finished: 31st

Race notes: Larson started ninth and moved to sixth over the first six laps. After the first caution of the race, he chose the inside lane for the lap 16 restart to be on the second row. Larson held the fourth position for several laps before he eventually got shuffled out to the back of the top 10 on lap 33. He worked the outside lane to move back up into the top six, but a move to the inside lane found no takers and he dropped outside the top 10. The 2021 champion finished stage one in 16th. 

During the stage break, Larson pitted for four tires and fuel. Tire carrier R.J. Barnette made a nice save to keep the team’s fuel can in the box as Larson was exiting pit road. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet restarted stage two from 17th and worked in the back of the pack for a bit. Interim crew chief Kevin Meendering ran Larson long in the stage and the team was one of the last to pit. Stopping for fuel only, Larson cycled out to 14th, which was exactly where he finished the stage.

Under yellow for the stage break, Larson pitted for four tires and fuel. He restarted 18th in the final stage and wasted no time driving up. Off the restart, he picked up six spots and moved into the top 10 on lap 173. Working the inside lane, Larson was into the top five four laps later as he went three wide for position and then rode the bottom before sliding into line up top. He was able to avoid the lap 191 incident and was scored in third at the time of the caution. Meendering brought Larson down for two right-side tires and fuel, which allowed Larson to restart behind leader Aric Almirola on lap 200. Running second on lap 209, Almirola blew a tire right in front of Larson and came down the track right in front of Larson. The 30-year-old driver had nowhere to go and crashed, ending his day. 

William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Where he finished: 32nd

Race notes: Byron started 11th and was into the top 10 on lap 3. Running ninth when a caution came out on lap 11, Byron said the car felt good. He restarted on the inside lane on lap 16 from the fourth row and he moved up to sixth on lap 23. The coming and going nature of superspeedway racing saw him fall outside the top 10. The 25-year-old tried the bottom line but no one was sticking with him. Byron told interim crew chief Brian Campe that the car was “building tight as we go.” In the late part of the stage, he picked up a few spots to finish 11th. 

Under the stage break, Byron pitted for four tires, fuel, an air pressure and chassis adjustment. He restarted stage two in 13th. During the run, Campe reminded the driver of the No. 24 to save some fuel so that the team wouldn’t have to wait on fuel during its stop later in the stage. As pit stops began, Byron rejoined the top 10. Pitting from second on lap 138, he took fuel and got a chassis adjustment. The two-time winner in 2023 cycled out to fourth and finished the stage in fifth. 

With the yellow out for the stage break, Byron received four tires and fuel from the No. 24 pit crew. He wanted no adjustments as he was happy with the car. Restarting sixth on lap 169, Byron moved to second as he pushed Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to the lead. With the inside lane coming, the leader would move back and forth to control the point position and that saw Byron in second or third depending on the lane the leader was in. On lap 191, Byron was involved in a multi-car incident with Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher, teammate Josh Berry and others. The driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 got damage as he got squeezed into the right-side wall, ran into the back of Buescher and saw Berry make contact with the left side of the car. The team assessed the damage, and it brought an end to his day.