AVONDALE, Ariz. – William Byron led the Hendrick Motorsports quartet with a sixth-place finish during the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season finale at Phoenix Raceway.
Kyle Larson ended the season in pursuit of his teammate, crossing the line in the ninth position and finished third in the owner’s championship.
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Chase Elliott ended the day in the 28th spot, finishing fourth in the championship standings. The No. 9 entry was hit in the left rear quarter panel in the final stage causing right side damage to his car.
"(I’m) proud of my team for the effort that they put in this weekend," Elliott said. "I felt like we had gotten our car a lot better throughout the race; for that we should be very proud. It was nice to make the round. It’s a very difficult thing to do. Obviously, not content with that but certainly nice to come out here and have a shot."
Alex Bowman finished in the 34th position after contact with Michael McDowell in the final stage resulted in damage to the front end of the No. 48 entry. The event also serves as the final race as a crew chief for Greg Ives. Since working together full-time in 2018, the pair have combined for seven victories as a team.
Cup Series action will return on Feb. 5, 2023, with the Clash at The Coliseum exhibition race opening the new season on the purpose-built short track in Los Angeles, California.
William Byron, No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 6th
Stage one: The No. 24 entry rolled off the grid in the eighth position. Under the green flag, Byron settled into the top-10. Over the radio, Byron was asked by crew chief Rudy Fugle for an update on his breaks. Byron responded with, “my breaks are good; no break shake,” as he continued to move forward. By the end of stage one, Byron ended in the seventh position.
Stage two: Under the caution, the No. 24 pit crew earned their driver four spots on pit road. The track position proved helpful as Byron advanced into the fourth position after the restart. The caution came back out on lap 86 with Byron holding the fourth spot. Crew chief Rudy Fugle brought his driver into the pits under the caution for four tires and fuel. After an issue on the left rear that caused a slow pit stop, Byron took the green flag in the ninth spot for the restart. Despite falling back to the 11th position, Byron mounted a charge back to the top 10 on lap 127. He was one of the first cars to make his way down pit road, coming in for service on lap 145. Despite going a lap down in the cycle, the No. 24 entry unlapped himself by lap 161 thanks to having fresher tires. Because of the strategy call from Fugle, Byron had more than enough fuel as his competitors sought to save fuel to make it to the finish of the stage. By the time stage two came to a close, the No. 24 entry crossed the line in the seventh position.
Final stage: Lining up as the leader of the outside row, Byron dropped back to third shortly after the drop of the green flag and held that position as the caution flag came back out. For the ensuing restart, Byron chose the bottom and slid back into the third position as the race returned to single-file action. Byron commanded the fifth position when Fugle called his driver back onto pit road on lap 251 for four tires and fuel. By lap 260, Byron had moved his way up to sixth spot on track and held this position when the caution flag returned on lap 269. After getting four tires and fuel under the yellow flag, Byron took the green flag in the fifth position. Returning to racing action on lap 280, the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 settled into the fifth position. The race continued under the green flag for the remainder of the event with Byron finishing sixth on track.
Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 9th
Stage one: Larson began the 2022 season finale in the fourth position. Following the drop of the green flag, Larson continued to maintain his spot inside the top five. During the first green-flag run, the driver of the No. 5 radioed crew chief Cliff Daniels saying his car was, “a little loose but pretty good.” As stage one drew to a close, Larson crossed the line in the fourth position.
Stage two: On pit road, the No. 5 HendrickCars.com pit crew earned their driver two spots, allowing him to start on the front row for the beginning of stage two. A caution on lap 86 saw Larson continuing in the runner-up position. With the stoppage in racing action, Daniels brought his driver down pit road for four tires and fuel. With one car staying out and another pitting for two tires, Larson dropped back two positions and restarted in the fourth position. Choosing to stay out longer in the cycle, the No. 5 entry reported a loose condition into turn one as his tires wore further into the run. Rather than pit, Daniels chose to keep his driver on track and save fuel until the scheduled caution. By the end of the second stage, the driver of the No. 5 crossed the line in the eighth position.
Final stage: After choosing their starting position eighth in line, the caution flag returned shortly after the beginning of the final stage. Back under the green flag, Larson slipped to the 12th spot after a three-wide battle for position ensued on the restart. Under the green flag, Larson made his way onto pit road for four tires and fuel on lap 255, giving up the 10th spot to get service. The caution flag came out on lap 269 for an incident on the back straightaway. While on pit road, Larson slid through his pit box, causing a slow pit stop with Larson choosing his lane in the 12th position in line. By lap 284, Larson earned the ninth position on track. As the race drew to a close, the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 finished the event in the ninth position and ended the year third in the owner’s championship.
Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 28th
Stage one: Elliott and the No. 9 team started the 2022 Cup Series championship race in the fifth position and settled into that spot as the green flag dropped. Lap 16 saw Elliott drop back to the sixth spot before making his way back into the top five on lap 26. As stage one came to a close, Elliott crossed the line in the sixth position, second among the Championship 4 drivers.
Stage two: After settling into the seventh position on the restart, Elliott had dropped back to the eighth spot when the caution flag came out on lap 86. Under the yellow flag, the driver of the No. 9 made his way down pit road for four tires and adjustments to address a tight condition within the racecar. He would restart the event in the 11th position. By lap 98, Elliott moved up into the ninth position. Over the radio, crew chief Alan Gustafson radioed his driver saying, “lap times are good in clean air, focus forward." As his driver moved up into the eighth spot, Elliott confirmed this message and stated that the car’s balance was improving. On lap 154, he made his way onto pit road for his regularly scheduled pit stop. After getting four tires and fuel, the No. 9 entry rejoined the event and cycled back into the pack. By the end of stage two, Elliott crossed the line in 12th position.
Final stage: Shortly after the start of the final stage, the caution flag returned with Elliott maintaining the fifth spot. On the ensuing restart, Elliott made contact with fellow Championship 4 contender Ross Chastain, sending the No. 9 entry spinning. The incident resulted in damage to the right side of Elliott’s car and cost the team a lap to the leaders. With the damage, Elliott was unable to maintain the pace of the frontrunners and lost another lap shortly after the restart. The caution returned to the speedway on lap 269 with Elliott running in the 31st position. After taking the wave around to get one lap back, he rejoined the race now two laps off the pace. Back under the green flag, Elliott ran in the 29th position as he struggled to keep pace with the pack. When the checkered flag came out to end the 2022 season, Elliott crossed the line in the 28th spot on track, finishing fourth in the driver’s championship.
Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 34th
Stage one: Bowman’s return to Cup Series action saw him take the green flag in the 24th position. Despite struggling to pass, the No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was posting laps that matched the top-eight competitors. By lap 25, the No. 48 entry had moved up into the 19th position. Stage one ended with Bowman occupying the 20th spot on track.
Stage two: Stage two went green on lap 69 with the No. 48 Ally Racing team running in the 20th position. By the time caution returned on lap 86, Bowman had gained one position. Under the yellow flag, Ives called his driver into the pits for four tires and fuel. The move had Bowman restart in the 21st position but quickly gain three spots on the restart. On lap 150, the driver of the No. 48 radioed his crew saying he was, “starting to get a little bit of break shake” as the run progressed. Lap 157 saw Bowman bring the No. 48 entry down pit road for four tires and fuel, rejoining the event in 28th. By the end of stage two, Bowman held the 23rd spot on track, earning the lucky dog position after taking four tires and fuel.
Final stage: Following two quick cautions shortly after the start of the final stage, Bowman took the green flag in the 20th spot of the lap 205 restart. The incident allowed for Bowman to pass the lapped cars that restarted ahead of him when stage three began. Under the green flag, Bowman moved up to the 18th spot. Despite lacking track position, the driver of the No. 48’s lap times continued to match that of the top-12 drivers in the field. After staying out later than those ahead of him and briefly cycling to the lead for a lap, Bowman pitted on lap 254 for four tires and fuel. On lap 268, the 29-year-old driver was hit in the right rear by Michael McDowell, damaging the nose of the No. 48 entry. Following a pit stop to repair the damage, Bowman returned to the action in the 30th position, three laps down. Under the green flag, the driver of the No. 48 brought his car down pit road to cycle his brakes. By the end of the race, the Tucson, Arizona, native finished the race in the 34th position.