Albuquerque Journal

Hendrick’s tough weekend ends well


LAS VEGAS, Nevada — It had been a tumultuous weekend for Hendrick Motorsport­s when William Byron decided to do something he seldom does — text his boss.

He told team owner Rick Hendrick that as poorly as the weekend began with Chase Elliott suffering a broken leg while snowboardi­ng Friday, Byron felt good it would end with a strong finish Sunday.

Indeed it did. Led by Byron’s victory in the Las Vegas NASCAR Cup Series race, Hendrick Chevrolets occupied to the top three places.

“I think just shows the strength that our teams have and the ability to come together in tough situations,” Byron said. “I think I speak for everyone in the fact that we miss Chase out here. He’s a big contributo­r to feedback and our debriefs, and he’s a great race car driver. Has a lot to offer there. I think there was a void there, but I think we were able to fill it with just kind of coming together as a team.”

Hendrick drivers are going to have to continue to perform without Elliott, the 2020 Cup Series champion, for the foreseeabl­e future. He is out indefinite­ly after undergoing surgery to repair his broken left leg after the accident in Colorado. His family owns a home at Vail, Colorado.

Elliott is back home in Dawsonvill­e, Georgia, and he began physical therapy Monday.

Josh Berry took the wheel of Elliott’s No. 9 Chevy, and the team had to scramble to make adjustment­s on short notice. Berry finished 29th, and Hendrick general manager Jeff Andrews said there would be discussion­s on whether Berry or another driver will be in the seat when the series moves to Phoenix this weekend.

“Josh did an amazing job for us given the circumstan­ces,” Andrews said after the race. “And given the fact he’s not ever been in one of these Next-Gen cars before, really happy with what he did for us today.”

Andrews said Berry’s car had a throttle issue that needs to be fixed.

Hendrick will try to carry the momentum. Even with the Byron winning, Kyle Larson finishing second and Alex Bowman coming in third, there is still ground to make up in the standings. Bowman is second, Byron 13th and Larson 14th. Bowman has been the most consistent driver of the trio, registerin­g top-10 finishes in all three races .

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