Chase Elliott Wins at Dover International Speedway
NASCAR – October 8, 2018
Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott, 22, earned his second career victory in Dover, where the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was held yesterday. The Chevrolet #9 driver performed much better than his opponents Denny Hamlin (Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing) and Joey Logano (Ford, Team Penske) who finished the race in second and third respectively.
Elliot now holds fifth place in the Series this season with 3,056 points and two victories, while the leader of the season, Kevin Harvick (Ford, Stewart-Haas Racing) has 3,101 points and seven victories. This gap isn’t crucial, yet, Elliott, as well as other competitors, will have to try hard to overthrow Harvick.
“This was a lot about perseverance,” said Elliott, who recovered from a penalty for an uncontrolled tire incurred during a yellow-flag pit stop on Lap 123. “We had a penalty early and fell behind and luckily had a good enough car and good strategy to get back (to the front). What a day!”
The move that won the race was crew chief Alan Gustafson’s decision to keep Elliott on the track with tires that were more than 50 laps old, when most of the other cars opted to pit on Lap 393 after Clint Bowyer’s Ford slammed into the Turn 4 wall one lap earlier.
Elliott led the field to a restart on Lap 397, but on the backstretch during that circuit, Aric Almirola nicked the outside wall and started a chain-reaction collision that also damaged the cars of fellow playoff drivers Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr., and Ryan Blaney.
NASCAR red-flagged the race and Elliott outran Hamlin in an overtime that extended the event four laps beyond its scheduled distance. The only laps Elliott led were the last 11.
Kevin Harvick, on the other hand, was out front for 286 of the 404 laps in a #4 Ford that was the clear class of the field. Harvick swept the first two stages, as he had done during his June victory at the Monster Mile and appeared headed for another perfect afternoon, but the 2014 series champion had to return to the pit for an extra tire change after a flying lug nut knocked the valve stem off Harvick’s left rear tire.
Harvick regained the lap he lost under a debris caution called on Lap 339, but he couldn’t work his way back to the front before the race ended.
Whatever it was, the victory was a victory, and nobody could accuse Chase Elliott of “dirty tricks;” it seems like everything is just getting started for the young Hendrick Motorsports driver on his way to success in the Series.