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Chase Elliott holds off Hamlin for Cup win at Daytona RC

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Chase Elliott holds off Hamlin for Cup win at Daytona RC
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NASCAR’s addition of a new road course race this season was just what Chase Elliott needed to get primed for the playoffs.

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry
Race Winner Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro

Elliott, who won the last two road course events on the Cup Series schedule, entered Sunday’s race struggling to return to the form he and his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team showed early this year.

He did that and more, taking a dominating win in the series’ inaugural race on the 3.57-mile, 14-turn Daytona Road Course for his second victory of the 2020 season.

"Our guys did a phenomenal job. We just had a phenomenal car," Elliott said after the race. "I don’t think I did anything very special today. I think Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and all our guys did a really good job pitting there at the start. We made a couple really small adjustments I felt like at that first stop and I was really kind of able to leave it after that. So, I just appreciate everybody that makes this happen.

"Thanks to the fans. Good to see you guys back. Appreciate you all coming out. And, just thanks to all our partners and Chevrolet. I spent a lot of time with them this past week. A special thanks to Jordan Taylor and Boris Said for reaching out and being willing to help this weekend; some road course ringers. I tried to lean on them and luckily everything worked out.”

Elliott easily cleared to the lead on a restart with three of 65 laps remaining and patiently kept Denny Hamlin at bay to earn his third consecutive road course victory in the Cup Series and eighth overall series win.

 

Martin Truex Jr. ended up third, Jimmie Johnson fourth and Chris Buescher rallied in the final laps to grab a top-five.

Completing the top-10 were Clint Bowyer, Kaz Grala – who made his Cup series debut, William Byron, Joey Logano and Michael McDowell.

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Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, a handful of drivers who had not pit made their stops.

When the race returned to green on Lap 33, Elliott led the way followed by Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Harvick got hit by Christopher Bell in Turn 1 and went off course. After avoiding several on-coming cars, he was able to continue on with no caution.

 

Harvick eventually had to pit under green for tires after complaining of a vibration.

With 30 laps to go, Elliott had moved out to a more than 3-second lead over Kurt Busch with McDowell in third. Johnson was fourth and Brad Keselowski fifth.

On Lap 36, NASCAR placed the race under caution as there was a lightning strike within eight miles of the track, which necessitated a red flag and minimum 30-minute delay.

The race ended up being delayed for nearly 32 minutes before conditions returned to yellow. The green flag was displayed on Lap 40 with Elliott still in the lead.

On Lap 42, Kyle Busch got around Johnson to take third as Elliott and Kurt Busch continued to run 1-2. One lap later, Kyle Busch moved into the second spot and began setting his sights on Elliott for the lead.

With 20 laps remaining, Elliott’s lead had expanded to more than 6 seconds over Kyle Busch. Johnson was third, Bowyer fourth and Hamlin fifth.

By Lap 47, many drivers began making their final green-flag stop for new tires and fuel to make it to the finish of the race.

Elliott made his stop on Lap 49. When Kyle Busch made his stop he was forced to head to the garage with an apparent broken brake rotor, knocking him out of contention.

Once the cycle of stops was complete on Lap 54, Elliott returned to the lead followed by Hamlin, Johnson and Bowyer.

With 10 laps to go, Elliott’s lead over Hamlin was over 9 seconds with Johnson third, more than 11 seconds behind the leader.

On Lap 61, Kyle Busch wrecked in Turn 8 after it appeared he had both rear tires blow out after something broke in the rear of his No. 18 Toyota.

Many lead-lap cars remained on the track but several further back in the lineup elected to pit for fresh tires. On the restart with three laps to go in the race, Elliott was followed by Hamlin, Johnson, Bowyer and Truex.

Stage 2

Hamlin stayed out while many others pit and collected the Stage 2 win over Bowyer.

Ryan Blaney was third, Byron fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, some drivers pit but many remained on the track since they pit before the conclusion of Stage 1.

On the restart on Lap 18, Logano led the way followed by Hamlin and Harvick.

Hamlin got around Logano on the outside in Turn 3 to reclaim the lead as Harvick moved into second.

With 10 laps remaining in the second stage, Hamlin continued to lead the way but Truex was close behind him challenging for the lead. Harvick was third, more than 3 seconds behind the leader.

On Lap 23, Truex went to the inside of Hamlin exiting the backstretch chicane and came away with the lead again.

With five laps to go in the stage, Truex’s lead over Hamlin had expanded to more than 2 seconds while Elliott ran third, 7 seconds behind the leader. Harvick was fourth and Blaney fifth.

Also on Lap 25, Kyle Busch spun around off Turn 6 but was able to continue on and there was no caution.

On Lap 27, several drivers began making green-flag pit stops for tires and fuel before the conclusion of the stage, including Johnson, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Elliott and Harvick.

Truex elected to pit with two laps to go turning the lead over to Hamlin. Truex, however, was penalized for speeding on pit road. Since pit road was closed, Truex had to start the final stage at the tail end of the longest line.

Stage 1

After Truex gave up the lead and decided to pit early, Elliott inherited the lead and cruised to an easy Stage 1 win over Logano.

Johnson was third, Bowyer fourth and Matt DiBenedetto rounded out the top-five.

Harvick, who started on the pole, got through Turn 1 cleanly on the first lap but got passed by Hamlin for the lead off Turn 5. Kyle Busch got around Harvick to take the second spot before the completion of the first lap.

Kyle Busch got around Hamlin through the backstretch chicane on Lap 2 to take the lead for the first time.

Hamlin powered around Kyle Busch on Turn 2 on Lap 3 to quickly reclaim the top spot.

On Lap 5, Kyle Busch elected to pit under green for new tires after flat-spotting his left-front during a run through the chicane.

By Lap 8, Hamlin had moved out to a 1.6-second lead over Truex as Elliott moved into third.

On Lap 9, Truex got around Hamlin going through Turn 3 to take the lead and then the two briefly made contact which left Hamlin with a tire run on his No. 11 Toyota.

 

With five laps remaining in the first stage, Truex built a more than 3.5-second lead over Elliott as Logano moved into third. Hamlin was forced to pit under green for new tires.

Truex was among a host of drivers who elected to make a green-flag stop prior to the closing of pit road, which turned the lead over to Elliott with two laps left in the stage.

On the final lap, Alex Bowman developed a flat left-rear tire and had to limp around the track to pit road, doing damage to his No. 88 Chevrolet.

Grala had to drop to the rear of the field to start the race because of a driver change in the No. 3 car. Grala was filling in for Austin Dillon, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Gap Interval Laps Led
1 9 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 65 2:37'30.157     34
2 11 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 65 2:37'30.359 0.202 0.202 16
3 19 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 65 2:37'32.517 2.360 2.158 10
4 48 United States Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 65 2:37'34.568 4.411 2.051  
5 17 United States Chris Buescher Ford 65 2:37'35.889 5.732 1.321  
6 14 United States Clint Bowyer Ford 65 2:37'36.029 5.872 0.140  
7 3 United States Kaz Grala Chevrolet 65 2:37'36.129 5.972 0.100 3
8 24 United States William Byron Chevrolet 65 2:37'36.589 6.432 0.460  
9 22 United States Joey Logano Ford 65 2:37'37.052 6.895 0.463 1
10 34 United States Michael McDowell Ford 65 2:37'38.307 8.150 1.255  
11 20 United States Erik Jones Toyota 65 2:37'38.529 8.372 0.222  
12 88 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 65 2:37'39.547 9.390 1.018  
13 2 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 65 2:37'40.042 9.885 0.495  
14 1 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 65 2:37'40.083 9.926 0.041  
15 21 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 65 2:37'41.087 10.930 1.004  
16 47 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 65 2:37'42.573 12.416 1.486  
17 4 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 65 2:37'43.418 13.261 0.845  
18 8 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 65 2:37'43.815 13.658 0.397  
19 6 United States Ryan Newman Ford 65 2:37'43.924 13.767 0.109  
20 13 United States Ty Dillon Chevrolet 65 2:37'44.115 13.958 0.191  
21 95 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 65 2:37'44.196 14.039 0.081  
22 41 United States Cole Custer Ford 65 2:37'44.418 14.261 0.222  
23 37 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 65 2:37'44.632 14.475 0.214  
24 10 United States Aric Almirola Ford 65 2:37'44.908 14.751 0.276  
25 43 United States Bubba Wallace Chevrolet 65 2:37'48.433 18.276 3.525  
26 42 United States Matt Kenseth Chevrolet 65 2:37'48.643 18.486 0.210  
27 96 Mexico Daniel Suarez Toyota 65 2:37'48.808 18.651 0.165  
28 15 United States Brennan Poole Chevrolet 65 2:37'51.575 21.418 2.767  
29 66 United States Timmy Hill Toyota 65 2:37'52.729 22.572 1.154  
30 51 Australia James Davison Ford 65 2:37'53.087 22.930 0.358  
31 12 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 65 2:37'53.694 23.537 0.607  
32 32 United States Corey Lajoie Ford 65 2:37'56.064 25.907 2.370  
33 00 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 64 2:37'44.820 1 Lap 1 Lap  
34 27 United States J.J. Yeley Ford 64 2:37'54.121 1 Lap 9.301  
35 38 United States John Hunter Nemechek Ford 62 2:31'35.493 3 Laps 2 Laps  
36 53 United States Garrett Smithley Chevrolet 60 2:24'50.690 5 Laps 2 Laps  
37 18 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 53 2:21'10.472 12 Laps 7 Laps 1
38 77 Stanton Barrett Chevrolet 49 2:37'58.585 16 Laps 4 Laps  
39 62 United States Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 46 1:54'58.501 19 Laps 3 Laps  

The other side of Alex Bowman: 'It takes a lot out of me'

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Daytona II
Drivers Chase Elliott
Teams Hendrick Motorsports
Author Jim Utter