It was a great night for the Hendrick Motorsports camp. While they still aren’t there yet in terms of race wins, and Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at the Richmond Raceway further showed that, it was still another great step in the right direction.
Chase Elliott would bring his No. 9 Chevrolet home second on the .75-mile Virginia race track, for his best finish of the season. He also did so with Kenny Francis as his interim crew chief, as his normal crew chief Alan Gustafson is still serving his suspension.
Elliott, now has eight runner-up finishes in young Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career. This one though, feels much differently than the others. This one, was much more of a relief. See, the others he thought he had cars to win. Saturday night, he never did. But, it’s not like it’s a fluke that he finished here, I mean he started the night in second too.
Elliott, immediately dropped back upon the start of the race though, but he fought and clawed his way back into contention as the night went on. He now has three top 11 finishes in his last four starts on the season.
Same can be said for his teammate Jimmie Johnson. He fell back early on too, even falling a lap down before the first stage even ended. But, there Johnson was with a sixth place finish in his No. 48 Chevrolet on Saturday night. It was his eighth straight top 11 finish at Richmond and Johnson’s second straight top six. He had just four top six finishes in 43 starts prior to his third and sixth place runs the last two weeks.
William Byron ran inside the top 10 for most of the night. Unfortunately, he had a tire run in the end and would have to settle for a 12th place finish in his No. 24 Chevrolet. He was undoubtedly a top 10 car this evening.
Alex Bowman had the worst night among the four drivers with a 18th place result. But, he fought back too, as he was three laps down at one point in the race. The speed improved as the night went on for him and all three of his teammates as Hendrick still isn’t there as far as racing winning pace goes, but they’re getting closer. That’s all you can ask for.