Chase Elliott’s days as a non-winner in NASCAR’s premier series came to an end Sunday when he drove to victory in Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Watkins Glen International circuit in Upstate New York.
Elliott, son former Cup champion and Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, mimicked his father’s first career victory as that win, too, came on a road course - “Dollar Bill’s” first Cup victory came at Riverside in the final race of the 1983 season.
The victory came in Elliott’s 99th career start and his third race at The Glen, where he had back-to-back 13th-place finishes.
Eight times he had finished second during his Cup career.
“Holy cow, what a thrill. Don’t know what to say,” the 22-year-old said after the victory to a track-side reporter. “So thrilled, so emotional, so much relief, you know, working on three years hadn’t won one. I was able to get it done.”
The victory for the Hendrick Motorsports driver gave Chevrolet its second points victory of the season and locked Elliott into the championship-deciding playoffs, which begin in Las Vegas five races from now.
Martin Truex Jr., seeking a third-straight road course win, pressured Elliott over the final 17 laps but finished second.
“It’s tough, gave it all I had,” Truex, who recorded his sixth top-five in the last seven races, said in a post-race TV interview. “I could catch him, but just trying to get close I would get loose. I was loose all day and traffic made it worse.”
Both drivers would run out of fuel before they could get to the garages - in Elliott’s case, to Victory Lane. Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson wound up using his car to push Elliott to his first victory celebration.
Finishing third was Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing.
Rounding out the top five were Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, both of JGR.
Collecting wins - and a playoff point each - in the 20-lap first and second stages were Truex and Elliott, respectively.
Denny Hamlin started the race from the pole of the 220.5-mile event but lost the lead on Lap 2 when he was passed by teammate Busch in the sweeping Carousel turn.
Busch dominated until early in the second stage when, on Lap 27, he was passed by Elliott for the lead. Busch moved back to the lead on the restart of the third and final stage when Elliott over-cooked Turn 1 of the 11-turn circuit.
Busch’s shot at the win ended when his team failed to give him a full load of fuel during a yellow flag pit stop with 37 laps to go. That gave Elliott the lead, which he held until the end.
—Field Level Media