The Hendrick Motorsports group have been reeling again lately. But, on Saturday at the Watkins Glen International road course, they appeared to have the speed to be in contention for the win in Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Their drivers led both practice sessions around the upstate New York circuit with Alex Bowman (125.888 mph) leading the initial session while his teammate and defending race winner Chase Elliott (126.901 mph) leading final practice in his No. 9 Chevrolet.
Elliott, looks like he has things going again thus far. He was P4 (125.623 mph) in the first session too. Bowman, was 13th in final practice but fourth on the 10 lap average chart.
William Byron enters as the hottest HMS driver and was 13th and eighth respectively in his No. 24 Chevrolet. Jimmie Johnson enters this weekend’s race with a new crew chief and was 12th and 15th respectively on the speed charts on single lap runs but sixth on the 10 lap averages.
Heading into this weekend overall, HMS had a lot of work to do. Johnson, had one crew chief (Chad Knaus) for 17 straight seasons but now has had two in the first 21 races of 2019.
For a seven time Cup Series champion – that’s insane to think about. But, Johnson is currently in the midst of a three week string of finishes of 30th, 30th and 15th respectively heading into a track where he’s finished 40th, 29th and 30th respectively in his last three starts at the Watkins Glen International.
What about Elliott?
At one point of the season, Elliott looked like a championship contender. He won at Talladega back in April to kick off a five race string of a top five finish in each race. Unfortunately, his good finishes stopped then.
Since Michigan, Elliott has one top 15 finish in seven tries. Those last seven finishes are – 20th, 37th, 11th, 35th, 15th, 29th and 38th respectively. He heads to Watkins Glen as the defending race winner but also coming off of a practice crash last weekend in Pocono and a crash in the race itself en route to a last place finish. He was quick on Saturday but will that translate into a good finish on Sunday.
He needs to end this spiral and Watkins Glen could be the place.
Bowman is struggling too. He won at the Chicagoland Speedway a month ago but that and a 10th place run are his only top 10 results in the last eight races. He finished 14th at Watkins Glen last year.
The only bright spot is Byron who has three top eight finishes in his last five starts on the season. He finished eighth in Watkins Glen last year and had a really fast car at Sonoma back in June.