Chase Elliott Proves he is King of the Road at Daytona

AP Photo

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – RIS – Chase Elliott proved he was certainly “King of the Road,” after winning for the third straight time on a road course in a NASCAR Cup Race at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.  After a late caution, he held off Denny Hamlin for the win.  Elliott was dominant on the 3.61-mile course. With no practice and qualifying before the race, there were many questions by drivers, but Elliott showed the way, leading 34 of 65 laps.

Elliott had to hold off the field on a restart created by Kyle Busch’s incident with five laps to go. Elliott kept the lead on the restart with three laps to go and held off Denny Hamlin to score his second win of the year.  Hamlin got to Elliott’s bumper on the final chicane on the final lap but wasn’t close enough to make a pass or even try to knock Elliott out of the way.

Hamlin finished second and was followed by Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Chris Buescher.

“He had such good drive off [the corners], I couldn’t do anything with him,” Hamlin said. “They have a really good road course set-up and he executes it. That’s leads to lots of success.”

“I had a phenomenal car,” Elliott said moments after his eighth Cup Series victory. “I don’t think I did anything special today.”

Elliott won last year’s Roval race at Charlotte and last year’s race at Watkins Glen. Elliott is the first Cup driver to win three consecutive road course races since Tony Stewart did so in 2004-05.

Despite finishing fourth, Johnson gained only one point on William Byron in the race for the final playoff spot. Johnson trails Byron by 25 points with three races left in the regular season. Byron finished eighth and outscored Johnson 11-8 in stage points.

The win means that half of Elliott’s wins have come at road courses. He got his first of eight career wins at Watkins Glen in 2018 and has also won at Dover, Kansas, and Talladega in addition to the two road course victories in 2019 and his two wins this season.

Truex finished third after he was sent to the back of the field at the beginning of the third stage for a pit road penalty. Jimmie Johnson was fourth and Chris Buescher finished fifth. Kaz Grala finished a surprising seventh in his substitute appearance for Austin Dillon. Grala, making his first Cup start, was in for Dillon because Dillon tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week.

Points leader and pole-starter Kevin Harvick spun from fifth place after the start of Stage 3 when his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was bumped from behind by the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Toyota of rookie Christopher Bell. Harvick slid to a stop in Turn 3 and continued on, but in 37th place — last on the lead lap. He spun again on Lap 43, continuing after looping the No. 4 car in Turn 6. Harvick rallied to finish 17th, ending a streak of 10 straight top-10 results.

Kyle Busch had an unusual day, even before a brake issue sent his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota behind the wall for lengthy repairs. He locked up the brakes entering the frontstretch chicane on Lap 2, forcing an unscheduled pit stop to change tires. He also spun in Turn 6, and the brief off-course excursion knocked him back to 13th on Lap 25.

When his brakes gave out with 17 laps to go, Busch steered the No. 18 to the Cup Series garage, where he lost six laps to the front-runners while his crew worked. His return to the track was a brief one, and he retired after blowouts of both rear tires forced him to crash with five laps left in regulation. Busch placed 37th, his fifth finish outside the top 30 this year.

Kaz Grala finished an impressive seventh in his Cup Series debut, leading three laps during a pit-stop cycle in the final stage. He was picked by Richard Childress Racing as a late replacement in the No. 3 Chevrolet for Austin Dillon, who was sidelined after reporting a positive COVID-19 test Saturday.

The race was halted by a roughly 30-minute delay for a late-afternoon lightning strike in the vicinity of the speedway.

Next is a double-header at Dover next weekend.

Unofficial Results, Go Bowling 235, Daytona International Speedway Road Course, 3.61 mile paved

Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 7, Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 65, 1, 7, 3, 34, 6, 54, Running
2) 
2, Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota, 65, , 1, 4, 16, 1, 45, Running
3) 
3, Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 65, 8, , 3, 10, , 37, Running
4) 
11, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 65, 3, , , , , 41, Running
5) 
21, Chris Buescher, No. 17 Fastenal Ford, 65, , , , , , 32, Running
6) 
12, Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford, 65, 4, 2, , , , 47, Running
7) 
10, Kaz Grala(i), No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet, 65, , , 1, 3, , 0, Running
8) 
13, William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet, 65, 7, 4, , , , 40, Running
9) 
5, Joey Logano, No. 22 PPG Ford, 65, 2, , 1, 1, , 37, Running
10) 
30, Michael McDowell, No. 34 Chicago Pneumatic Ford, 65, , , , , , 27, Running
11) 
20, Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota TrueStart Toyota, 65, 6, , , , , 31, Running
12) 
27, Alex Bowman, No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet, 65, , , , , , 25, Running
13) 
17, Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Wabash Ford, 65, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 
8, Kurt Busch, No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, 65, , 9, , , , 25, Running
15) 
9, Matt DiBenedetto, No. 21 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford, 65, 5, , , , , 28, Running
16) 
25, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 65, , 5, , , , 27, Running
17) 
1, Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Busch Beer National Forest Foundation Ford, 65, , 8, , , , 23, Running
18) 
18, Tyler Reddick #, No. 8 Cat App Chevrolet, 65, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 
14, Ryan Newman, No. 6 Guaranteed Rate Ford, 65, , , , , , 18, Running
20) 
23, Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO For Your Boat Chevrolet, 65, , , , , , 17, Running
21) 
15, Christopher Bell #, No. 95 Germania Insurance Toyota, 65, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 
26, Cole Custer #, No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford, 65, 9, , , , , 17, Running
23) 
22, Ryan Preece, No. 37 Purina Chevrolet, 65, 10, 6, , , , 20, Running
24) 
6, Aric Almirola, No. 10 Go Bowling Ford, 65, , , , , , 13, Running
25) 
19, Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Door Dash Chevrolet, 65, , , , , , 12, Running
26) 
16, Matt Kenseth, No. 42 Clover Chevrolet, 65, , , , , , 11, Running
27) 
31, * Daniel Suarez, No. 96 CommScope Toyota, 65, , , , , , 10, Running
28) 
33, Brennan Poole #, No. 15  Chevrolet, 65, , , , , , 9, Running
29) 
37, * Timmy Hill(i), No. 66 RoofClaim.com Toyota, 65, , , , , , 0, Running
30) 
38, James Davison, No. 51 Jacob Construction Ford, 65, , , , , , 7, Running
31) 
24, Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford, 65, , 3, , , , 14, Running
32) 
29, Corey LaJoie, No. 32 Trump 2020 Ford, 65, , 10, , , , 6, Running
33) 
35, Quin Houff #, No. 00 Bos Klein/Creek Enterprises Chevrolet, 64, , , , , , 4, Running
34) 
32, JJ Yeley(i), No. 27 NASCAR Heat 5 Ford, 64, , , , , , 0, Running
35) 
28, John Hunter Nemechek #, No. 38 Death Wish Coffee Ford, 62, , , , , , 2, Accident
36) 
36, Garrett Smithley(i), No. 53  Ford, 60, , , , , , 0, Battery
37) 
4, Kyle Busch, No. 18 Snickers Toyota, 53, , , 1, 1, , 1, Accident
38) 
34, Stanton Barrett, No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet, 49, , , , , , 1, Running
39) 
39, * Brendan Gaughan, No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet, 46, , , , , , 1, Transmission
(i)
 Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Race Length: 65 Laps, 234.65 Miles

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 37 Mins, 30 Secs
Average Speed: 89.39 MPH
Margin of Victory: .202 Seconds

Stage 1 Top 10: 9, 22, 48, 14, 21, 20, 24, 19, 41, 37

Stage 2 Top 10: 11, 14, 12, 24, 47, 37, 9, 4, 1, 32

Race Comments: Chase Elliott won the Go Bowling 235 at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, his eighth victory in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Prior to the start, the following vehicle(s) dropped to the rear of the field under penalty: Nos. 3, 77 (Driver Change), No. 32 (Two Inspection Failures), No. 66 (Unapproved Adjustment).

Caution Flags: 4 for 7 laps;
Laps: 17-17 (Stage 1 Conclusion [None]);
32-32 (Stage 2 Conclusion [88]);
37-39 (Weather - Lightning [Red: 00:31:14] [27]);
61-62 (No. 18 Incident Turn 8 [00]).

Lead Changes: 13 among 6 drivers;
K. Harvick 0;
D. Hamlin 1;
K. Busch 2;
D. Hamlin 3-9;
M. Truex Jr. 10-12;
C. Elliott 13-16;
J. Logano 17;
D. Hamlin 18-21;
M. Truex Jr. 22-27;
D. Hamlin 28-31;
C. Elliott 32-48;
M. Truex Jr. 49;
K. Grala(i) 50-52;
C. Elliott 53-65.

American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Chase Elliott, No. 9

Busch Pole Award: Kevin Harvick, No. 4

Sunoco Rookie of the Race: Tyler Reddick, No. 8

Ron Fleshman with John Davison

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2020, Issue 8, Posted 7:54 PM, 08.16.2020