Elliott Has the Wall to Win at the ROVAL™ 400
(CONCORD, NC – SEP 29, 2019 – RIS) Chase Elliott locked his brakes and slid into the Turn One (Heartburn Turn) tire barrier on a restart, then drove through the field to victory in the Bank of America ROVAL ™ at Charlotte Motor Speedway's road course. Chase Elliott, carried too much speed past Start/Finish on a restart in the last stage and slid into the barrier at "Heartburn Turn", causing another immediate yellow flag and dropping out of the top twenty. Following the incident, he was still turning lap times in the top ten and gaining positions almost every lap.
Alex Bowman 'assisted' Bubba Wallace into a spin exiting the back straight chicane bringing out a caution on lap 43, complaining that Wallace was relaying obscene hand signals for many laps. Bowman went on to finish second behind his fellow Hendrick driver Elliott.
"Definitely at the time I thought we were done for sure," said Elliott about hitting the barrier. "You know, I could see they were showing it up on the big screen, I could see the big screen down the back and I was looking at it, and I was like, well, the hood is not that bad, but I thought the splitter was knocked up, and I felt like if that was going to be the case, then we were probably done from there, and obviously just a really stupid mistake. I mean, I'm not sure you could do something more stupid than that.
"If there ever is a notebook of things not to do, that should be number one in that book," he added.
"Man, I thought it was over. I mean, I thought that he made ‑‑ if we came back to the top 10, that would be great," said owner Rick Hendrick about the restart error. "But the car was really fast, and I thought it was hurt when it went into that barrier. But he came out and the lap times were good, and then we got a couple of cautions that helped us, and he got back up to the front. The car was really good, and he made some unbelievable moves, so I'm just really proud. Three out of the last five road courses he's won, that's pretty sporty."
Winning crew chief Alan Gufstason commented about the damage to Elliott's car that: "it really wasn't much. It seemed like it pushed the hood down more than anything and kind of pushed the hood inside of the top of the fenders and kind of pushed it back into the windshield. The biggest thing that we really had to do is get that back sealed up and get it down. Having that vented isn't the greatest thing in the world for the performance of the car. Yeah, it was [our] biggest task. As long as the splitter was intact and in good condition, no tire rubs, we were going to be in decent shape. That was the case. We got lucky on that. I don't know how we didn't have more substantial damage than that. I think that just went our way."
The race showed that with a little cooperation and gentlemanly driving, four cars CAN go through Turn One side by side, but only on a restart.
Kevin Harvick, finishing third in the No. 4 Jimmy John's Ford Mustang, said "it was a great day for us. Without all of those cautions at the end, or one or two less, I think our Jimmy John's Ford Mustang probably still wins the race, but I could see that 9 creeping in my mirror and I knew how good his car was from practice yesterday. Once he got to us, he just rolled right around the outside of us. I thought if I could just get through turn one and beat the 19, I'd be in decent shape, but the 9 was just so good even after he crashed."
Fifth-place finisher Brad Keselowski commented after the race that: "I think Chase could have ran around on seven cylinders. He was handling so good that nobody was gonna touch him."
The day marked the 256th MENCS triumph for Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott's teammates Alex Bowman, the runner-up finisher joined by William Byron, who was sixth in his No. 24 UniFirst Camaro ZL1, and Jimmie Johnson with a ninth-place finish in his No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1.
Fords swept third through fifth, with Kevin Harvick third, Clint Bowyer (Ford) fourth, and Brad Keselowski rounding out the top-five.
Four drivers were eliminated from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval as the postseason field was trimmed from 16 drivers to 12 following Sunday's race, with Ryan Newman, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Erik Jones all falling short of the goal.
The Round of 12 drivers includes"
1. Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
2. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
3. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
4. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Team Penske Ford
5. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
6. Joey Logano, No. 22 Team Penske Ford
7. Chase Elliott, No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
8. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
9. William Byron, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
10. Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
11. Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Team Penske Ford
12. Alex Bowman, No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Pre-race events included awarding Jeff Hammond the Smokey Yunick Award by Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hammond was crew chief for 43 wins and two NASCAR Cup Series Championships during his career from 1982-2000.
Making the presentation was Marcus Smith, the president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports: "We couldn't think of anybody more deserving than you for this award," Smith said to Hammond. "Just a legend in motorsports and (part of) so much history in NASCAR. We couldn't be more pleased to award you with the Smokey Yunick Award for this year. We love the history that Charlotte Motor Speedway represents and we want to thank you for the awesome impact you have had in motorsports and community."
Presented annually since 1997 to honor famed mechanic Henry "Smokey" Yunick, the award recognizes an individual who rose from humble beginnings to make a major impact on the motorsports industry.
"I was floored. I never saw this coming." Hammond said. "It's a great honor and I am very humbled by it. I was sharing the story with Marcus (Smith) earlier about how this place is about four miles from where I grew up and 50 years ago, I was packing the wheel bearings on my uncle's dirt car. My dad and uncle walked over and my uncle said 'He thinks he's another Smokey Yunick'. From that point on I started finding out who Smokey Yunick was. And that he was not just a great NASCAR champion. Smokey had a lot of passion for what he did. He was an innovator. I was blessed to have known Smokey and he has influenced my career. And this makes this award much more special."
Past winners of the Smokey Yunick Award include Ken Squier, Waddell Wilson, Banjo Matthews, Ray Evernham and Jimmy Fennig.
Possibly the highlight of the weekend however, was the press conference with honorary pace car driver Mario Andretti Andretti's career as a racer includes winning the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Formula One championship. He led the field out to the 17-turn, 2.28-mile track aboard a Toyota Camry XSE pace car.
"They did everything right, for sure," Andretti said. "It's always challenging to create a road course that's got good technical flow when you're somewhat limited with the geography. Quite honestly, I've never been too much of a fan of road courses inside an oval. I'm a fan of this one."
Andretti took some laps on the ROVAL™ in 2017 and made suggestions for improvements, many of which were implemented into the current layout.
"I can't take too much credit for the course itself," Andretti said. "All the ingredients were there. The only thing I suggested is at the time they didn't have any of the chicanes, (and) I felt to create more action (was to install chicanes) – and also they needed to slow the cars down somewhat before Turn 3 [in the banking]. That would invite some overtaking, and as you can see they put a chicane there last year, but it was too fast, and they needed more hard braking.
"I like the way they reacted for this year, and they put in a proper corner, and that's going to be interesting. It could be the point where they'll have the most action – and maybe some action some of the drivers don't really want.
"They did the best job they could have expected. The buzz is out there, and I think the drivers like it."
Andretti drove the ROVAL™ in a high-performance car to test the race track in March of 2017, and he put the car and the track through their paces. And he clearly had a good time.
"Hell yes," Andretti said. "They said, 'Take it easy.' I said, 'Oh, yeah, right.' I don't think the dealer was all that pleased because the brakes were smoking pretty good.
"It was a good way to really evaluate what was going on with that car."
After spending part of Sunday morning visiting suites atop the grandstands, Andretti was also impressed with the view race fans have.
"I'm looking around, and the view of this road course is phenomenal," Andretti said. "I don't know where else you could see as much of the race track as you do here, being a road course.
"I just had a chance to visit some of the suites, and I don't care where you are, even in the grandstands, you see at least three-quarters of it. That's a job well done."
Results: 60th Annual Bank of America ROVAL 400, September 29, 2019
Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, Concord, NC, 2.32, Mile Paved
Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 19, Chase Elliott (P), No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 109, 9, 1, 4, 35, 6, 52, Running
2) 2, Alex Bowman (P), No. 88 Nationwide Retirement Plans Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 35, Running
3) 6, Kevin Harvick (P), No. 4 Jimmy John's Ford, 109, 8, 5, 2, 34, , 43, Running
4) 5, Clint Bowyer (P), No. 14 Rush/Cummins Ford, 109, 3, 3, 1, 2, , 49, Running
5) 11, Brad Keselowski (P), No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford, 109, 6, 2, 1, 3, , 46, Running
6) 1, William Byron (P), No. 24 UniFirst Chevrolet, 109, 2, 10, 2, 23, , 41, Running
7) 8, Martin Truex Jr. (P), No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 109, , 7, 1, 1, , 34, Running
8) 9, Ryan Blaney (P), No. 12 Menards/Duracell Ford, 109, 5, , , , , 35, Running
9) 4, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 109, , 4, , , , 35, Running
10) 3, Joey Logano (P), No. 22 Shell Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford, 109, 4, , 1, 4, , 34, Running
11) 18, Matt DiBenedetto, No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota, 109, , , , , , 26, Running
12) 22, Michael McDowell, No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, 109, , 6, , , , 30, Running
13) 7, Kyle Larson (P), No. 42 Clover Chevrolet, 109, 1, , 1, 5, 1, 34, Running
14) 16, Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 109, 7, , , , , 27, Running
15) 29, Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO Military Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 22, Running
16) 10, Paul Menard, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, 109, , 9, , , , 23, Running
17) 21, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 SunnyD Ford, 109, , , , , , 20, Running
18) 12, Chris Buescher, No. 37 Velveeta Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 28, Denny Hamlin(P), No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota, 109, , , , , , 18, Running
20) 23, Kurt Busch, No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 17, Running
21) 14, Ryan Preece #, No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 37, Ross Chastain, No. 15 Empire Auto Group Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 0, Running
23) 30, Austin Dillon, No. 3 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 14, Running
24) 25, Bubba Wallace, No. 43 LeithCars.com Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 13, Running
25) 36, Matt Tifft #, No. 36 Louis Kemp Crab Delights Ford, 109, , , , , , 12, Running
26) 40, * Parker Kligerman(i), No. 96 TRD 40th Anniversary Toyota, 109, , , , , , 0, Running
27) 26, Corey LaJoie, No. 32 Samaritan's Feet Ford, 109, , , , , , 10, Running
28) 32, Landon Cassill(i), No. 00 Coladka Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 0, Running
29) 31, JJ Yeley(i), No. 51 Jacob Companies Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 0, Running
30) 33, * Timmy Hill(i), No. 66 Duracap Asphalt Toyota, 109, , , , , , 0, Running
31) 39, * Joe Nemechek(i), No. 27 Chevrolet, 109, , , , , , 0, Running
32) 24, Ryan Newman, No. 6 Performance Plus Ford, 109, , , , , , 5, Running
33) 20, Daniel Hemric #, No. 8 Cat Next Gen Excavators Chevrolet, 109, , , 1, 2, , 4, Running
34) 13, Daniel Suarez, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford, 108, 10, 8, , , , 7, Running
35) 27, David Ragan, No. 38 Citgard Heavy Duty Engine Oil Ford, 108, , , , , , 2, Running
36) 35, Garrett Smithley(i), No. 52 Victory Lane/Kendall Oil Ford, 100, , , , , , 0, Axle
37) 17, Kyle Busch(P), No. 18 M&M's Hazelnut Toyota, 99, , , , , , 1, Suspension
38) 34, * Josh Bilicki(i), No. 53 AQRE.app Chevrolet, 83, , , , , , 0, Suspension
39) 38, Reed Sorenson, No. 77 Aquesta Bank Chevrolet, 66, , , , , , 1, Electrical
40) 15, Erik Jones, No. 20 Craftsman Toyota, 23, , , , , , 1, Accident
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie, (P) Playoffs Qualified
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 20 Mins, 58 Secs.
Total Race Length: 109 Laps - 252.88 Miles
Average Speed: 75.499 MPH
Margin of Victory: 3.024 Seconds
Stage 1 Top 10: 42, 24, 14, 22, 12, 2, 10, 4, 9, 41
Stage 2 Top 10: 9, 2, 14, 48, 4, 34, 19, 41, 21, 24
Race Comments: Chase Elliott won the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. His sixth victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Prior to the start: the following vehicle(s) dropped to the rear of the field under penalty for the reasons indicated: Nos. 11, 88, 96 (Backup Cars), No. 19 (Engine Change), No. 51 (Driver Change), No. 00 (Unapproved Adjustments).
Caution Flags: 10 for 23 laps;
Laps: 21-22 (No. 47 Spin Turn 11 );
24-27 (No. 48, 88, 20, 11, 1, 37 Incident Turn 1 / Stage 1 Conclusion );
43-44 (No. 88, 43 Incident Turn 12 );
52-54 (Stage 2 Conclusion );
63-64 (No. 8 Spin Turn 13 );
66-66 (No. 9 Incident Turn 1 );
90-91 (No. 17 Spin Turn 11 );
94-94 (No. 11, 6, 47, 21 Incident Turn 6 );
97-98 (No. 41 Stopped On Track );
100-103 (No. 1, 37, 6, 47 Incident Turn 8 [Red Flag: 8:22] ).
Lead Changes: 13 among 9 drivers;
W. Byron (P) 1-21;
K. Larson (P) 22-26;
J. Logano (P) 27-30;
C. Elliott (P) 31-42;
M. Truex Jr. (P) 43;
C. Bowyer (P) 44-45;
B. Keselowski (P) 46-48;
C. Elliott (P) 49-64;
K. Harvick (P) 65-75;
W. Byron (P) 76-77;
C. Elliott (P) 78;
D. Hemric # 79-80;
K. Harvick (P) 81-103;
C. Elliott (P) 104-109.
American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick, No. 4
Busch Pole Award: William Byron, No. 24 103.198 mph
Fastest Lap: William Byron, No. 24
Moog Go the Extra Mile: Alex Bowman, No. 88 crew chief Greg Ives, 0.388 seconds
Sunoco Rookie of the Race: Ryan Preece, No. 47
RIS Photos by John Davison
Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.