INDIANAPOLIS – Sunday afternoon's NASCAR Cup Series race saw Chase Elliott take home a runner-up finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. The result is the sixth top-five finish of the season for the Dawsonville, Georgia, native and his third top-five on a road course in 2023.
After rolling off in the third position, Elliott maintained a spot in the top five as the race began. However, the pace of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy began to show as the day wore on. Through stage one, Elliott had moved up to third. For the second segment, he finished fifth.
For the final stage, Elliott fell back to third after getting a shove from Daniel Suarez on the latter half of the course. Under the green flag, the 27-year-old driver native brought his car in for four tires and fuel, jumping Suarez and becoming the second car on track to receive service. Despite gaining the track position, Elliott was unable to run down race leader Michael McDowell as the race remained green until the checkered flag.
"We just needed to be a little better through the back half of the race and get off of (Turn) 14 a little better to have myself in a better spot getting into Turn 1," Elliott said. "Really appreciate the effort. Our NAPA Chevy was really good. We just needed a little bit more. We came up just a bit short, but congrats to Michael (McDowell) – man, he did a good job, ran a great race and stayed mistake free and that’s what you have to do."
With two races left in the regular season, Elliott is now 80 points below the provisional playoff cutline. The next track on the schedule -- Watkins Glen International -- has been the site of two Cup Series victories for the 2020 champion, including his first-ever premier series win.
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Alex Bowman started the 82-lap main event in the ninth position and quietly held his spot inside the top 10. Through stage one, the No. 48 Ally Racing team earned three stages points with an eighth-place result. For stage two, crew chief Blake Harris chose to bring his driver into the pits as was the case for the majority of the field. Although Bowman would also finish eighth in stage two, he would quickly pass the two drivers ahead of him that pitted after earning stage points.
After pitting for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment during the final stage, the No. 48 Ally Racing team rejoined the field. With 19 laps remaining, Bowman made his way to fifth. He went on to finish in that spot for his second top-five finish of the season at a road course and his first top-five of the season since Circuit of The Americas in March. He now sits 80 points below the provisional playoff cutline.
"A top-five finish is good after the last couple of months," Bowman said. "Just proud of the whole No. 48 Ally Chevy team. We fell off a little too hard there in the end of the run before that, but that last run we were really fast. Always want more, but it was a good, solid day for us."
Kyle Larson’s day began from the sixth spot, but the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevy quickly moved up the field under the green flag. For stage one, the 31-year-old driver came home with a fifth-place finish. Through the second segment, Larson began to catch Elliott for the fifth position as his teammate battled two other drivers for the third spot. Entering turn 12, Larson locked up his tires and was forced to stop in the runoff area before continuing. The loss of track position moved the No. 5 entry back to the 10th spot for stage two.
For the final stage, crew chief Cliff Daniels brought his driver into the pits on lap 50 for four tires and fuel. With 18 laps remaining in the stage and the full field cycled through green flag pit stops, Larson had moved up to the eighth position on track, which is where he finished. The result is his 12th top 10 of the year and he moved up to fifth in the points standings.
"I’m a little bit bummed," Larson said. "I made a mistake in Turn 12 and locked up. Went from fourth to tenth, then the race went green from then on. ... If I didn’t make that mistake, maybe I’d finish third or fourth. I’m bummed about that, but all in all, it could have been worse. I just have to clean up a little bit. All in all a good day."
As the race began, William Byron made his way down pit road to serve his pass-through penalty under the green flag for failing pre-race technical inspection three times on Friday. Shortly after doing so, the caution flag was deployed, allowing the No. 24 Axalta Chevy to catch back up to the pack. However, due to the restart zone’s location on the exit of turn 13, the pack was unable to bunch up like normal, resulting in a larger time gap for Byron to make up. That said, he was on a mission to pass as many cars as he could. This resulted in a 24th-place finish in the opening segment and a finish of 21st in the second segment.
Despite the uphill battle to regain track position, Byron continued putting in fast lap times. With 25 laps remaining, he had moved up to the 19th position in a race that had only seen one yellow flag. Because of the lack of caution flags, the No. 24 was never able to overcome his original deficit. He crossed the line in 14th place to end Sunday's main event. Leaving Indianapolis, the 25-year-old driver is third in the points standings.
Tune in next week for the second consecutive road course race for the Cup Series, with this event taking place at Watkins Glen. Hendrick Motorsports has won 10 times at the New York-located road course and has been victorious in the last four races held there. Catch all of the action on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).