LONG POND, Pa. – Chase Elliott led the quartet of Hendrick Motorsports drivers at Pocono Raceway with a 10th-place result. The finish was the eighth time in 2023 that the 27-year-old driver has finished inside the top 10.

After starting shotgun on the field due to an on-track incident in qualifying, Elliott had his work cut out for him from the get-go. With the laps running low in stage one, crew chief Alan Gustafson brought his driver to pit road with the rest of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates. The move allowed the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy to jump those who pitted under the caution during the stage break. 

As differing fuel strategies played out during stage two and the final stage, Elliott was running 11th when the caution came out on lap 143. Under yellow, he pitted for four tires and fuel, choosing 16th in line for the restart. After surviving a second late restart, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native finished 10th. With five regular-season races remaining, Elliott is 56 points outside the provisional playoff cutline. 

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William Byron’s 14th-place result was not illustrative of where the No. 24 entry ran throughout the race. Byron, who was the pole sitter, paced the field for a race-high 60 laps during the event, but the pivotal moment of the race came on lap 143. With a caution out, crew chief Rudy Fugle brought his driver into the pits from ninth as Byron felt the grip in his tires was less than ideal. Restarting from 17th, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native got caught back in traffic on the final two restarts, resulting in the 14th-place result.

While the stats will show a 20th-place finish for Kyle Larson, the driver of the No. 5 Chevy had quite an eventful race. Early in the day, Larson was spun out by Christopher Bell in turn one and made contact with the outside wall. After rebounding, the Elk Grove, California, native cycled all the way back to the top spot based on fuel strategy and won stage two . 

By the time green-flag pit stops came during the final stage, a two-tire call from crew chief Cliff Daniels put his driver first among the competitors with enough fuel to make it to the finish. When the caution came out on lap 143, Larson stayed on the track, moving to the lead. He led the next 10 circuits before losing the lead off of a lap 154 restart to eventual race winner Denny Hamlin. This restart saw Hamlin run Larson high and the No. 5 entry made contact with the wall, damaging the car. 

"First off, I'm really proud of my team to get us into a position to race for a win. We got spun early and the car wasn't the same after that, but they played the strategy really well to get us up there," Larson said after the race. "Just move on. Move on and try to go to ... Richmond (Raceway). We won there earlier this year, so try and get a good run in. Thanks to the crowd here in Pennsylvania, I've got a lot of support here. Always love coming here."

Alex Bowman’s 24th-place result is a similar story to Larson's. After utilizing the same strategy as Elliott in stage one, Bowman's No. 48 Ally Best Friends Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 continually moved up the running order. After staying out under caution on lap 143, Bowman occupied the third position on track when Hamlin took the air off of the No. 48’s left-rear quarter panel, resulting in a spin in turn three on lap 149. The Tucson, Arizona, native rejoined the race after the incident, before finishing 24th. Bowman is 46 points outside of the provisional playoff cutline. 

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Next weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series returns to Richmond Raceway for the second time in 2023. Catch all of the action on Sunday, July 30, at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network, MRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).