Hendrick Motorsports’ will only have two drivers in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, with Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman failing to win their way in Saturday at Daytona.
Elliott finished fourth and Bowman sixth in Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400. Both drivers needed a win to qualify for the playoffs, as both drivers missed significant time earlier in the season due to injuries as well as a suspension for Elliott. Both had a great shot late Saturday to shock fans.
After Ryan Preece’s horrific wreck, the field lined up for overtime. Elliott and Bowman lined up for overtime second and third on the bottom lane, just behind Kevin Harvick on the front row.
However, nobody had an answer for the RFK Racing tandem of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher as Keselowski pushed Buscher to the victory.
Similarly to Bubba Wallace a season ago, Elliott’s season is not entirely finished, as the No. 9 car did qualify for the owners championship, bumping the No. 23 car out. The No. 48 car did not qualify for the owner’s title, finishing 18th.
Coming into Daytona, arguably Elliott’s two best chances to win his way in narrowly slipped through his fingers.
In Indianapolis, Elliott ran out of time to chase down eventual winner Michael McDowell, who the No. 9 car was gaining on during the final laps.
At Watkins Glen, a solid run for Elliott went to waste due to a miscalculation of fuel mileage, ending his chance for the win.
Elliott came to the defense of his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, for the criticism received
Things hadn’t been great for Bowman either coming to Daytona. Apart from a fifth place finish in Indianapolis, Bowman hadn’t finished in the top-10 since finishing eighth at Richmond in the spring.
Kyle Larson and William Byron will be Hendrick Motorsports’ only two representatives in this season’s playoffs, no doubt a disappointing season for one of NASCAR’s top teams.
The green flag will drop on the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs next Sunday, with the Cook Out Southern 500 set to begin at Darlington Raceway shortly after 6 P.M. EST.