Elliott wins Martinsville, Harvick eliminated in dramatic finish

Chase Elliott will race for his first NASCAR Cup Series championship with a victory in perhaps the biggest race of his career thus far.

Race winner Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro
Race winner Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang wrecks before the finish line
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Elliott, who for all practical purposes needed a win to advance to the title race next weekend at Phoenix, came up with his best performance at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday, leading 236 of 500 laps and easily held off Ryan Blaney at the finish to clinch the victory.

With the win, Elliott will join Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski as the four drivers who will compete for the 2020 series championship next weekend. Whoever finishes highest in the race among the four will be the champion.

The win is Elliott’s fourth of the season – a career-best – and second in the 10-race playoffs, which have proved especially timely.

 

Elliott’s appearance in the Championship 4 will give Chevrolet an opportunity to win Cup Series title for the first time since 2016.

“Biggest win ever for us. Just so proud,” Elliott said. “I feel like that’s what’s been missing these past four or five years, to perform when we don’t have a choice. To do that tonight, couldn’t ask for a better night. It’s unreal.

“Just unbelievable. Going to Phoenix, with a shot to win a championship. I can’t believe it.

“What more could you ask for?”

Joey Logano finished third in the race, Keselowski was fourth and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 finishers were Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch and Matt DiBenedetto.

Kevin Harvick, who won the regular season title, entered the final lap needing one more position to transfer to the Championship 4 and turned Kyle Busch, but Busch still ended up finishing ahead of Harvick when they crossed the finish line.

“Everybody kept battling there. I tried to run into the door of (Kyle Busch) there as a last ditch effort and spun him out,” Harvick said. “I’m sorry to him for that. Not a great three weeks for us.”

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Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all the lead-lap cars pit with Elliott the first off pit road. On the restart on Lap 268, Elliott was followed by Truex and Kurt Busch.

Hamlin had to pit twice for loose lug nuts and restarted in the rear of the field.

With 200 laps remaining in the race, Elliott held about a 1-second lead over Truex with Blaney having moved to third.

On Lap 311, Truex got to the rear bumper of Elliott and in position to challenge him for the lead.

Timmy Hill hit the wall in Turn 2 on Lap 352 to bring out the caution. The lead-lap cars all pit with Logano the first off pit road.

On the restart on Lap 359, Logano was followed by Truex, Blaney and Elliott.

Blaney got around Logano on Lap 369 to take the lead for the first time in the race.

James Davison’s car came to stop off Turn 2 on Lap 400, which was the 11th caution of the race. Harvick returned to the lead lap thanks to being the first car one lap down at the time of the caution.

All lead-lap cars pit with Logano the first car off pit road. Keselowski was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.

On the restart on Lap 409, Logano was followed by Blaney and Keselowski.

Truex made contact with Logano on the restart and moved into the lead.

With 80 laps to go, Truex had built up a 1.3-second lead over Blaney while Logano ran third.

William Byron, who was running 14th at the time, backed his No. 24 into the Turn 4 wall which forced another caution flag.

Most of the lead-lap cars pit with Truex the first off pit road. On the restart on Lap 449, Corey LaJoie led the way – he stayed out since he had no new tires – followed by Truex, Logano, Elliott and Blaney.

LaJoie was black-flagged for jumping the restart and Truex moved into the lead followed by Elliott and Logano.

On Lap 457, Elliott got around Truex off Turn 4 to retake the lead.

With 27 laps to go, Truex began falling back as he complained of a loose wheel, which allowed Logano to move up to second behind Elliott. Truex ended up having to pit on Lap 476.

With less than 10 to go, Elliott still held a more than 5-second lead over Blaney as Logano ran third.

Stage 2

Elliott ran down Hamlin with new tires and cruised to the Stage 2 win over Truex.

Hamlin ended up third, Blaney fourth and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, several lead-lap cars elected to pit with Elliott the first off pit road. Kyle Busch stayed on the track and inherited the lead.

On the restart on Lap 140, Kyle Busch was followed by Kurt Busch and Custer. Elliott restarted seventh.

After running side-by-side for two laps with his younger brother, Kurt Busch cleared for the lead on Lap 143.

On Lap 146, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. began smoking heavily and dropped fluid all over the track which brought out another caution. The incident required an extensive clean-up but the race was not red-flagged.

The race returned to green on Lap 159 with Kurt Busch still out front.

Elliott got around Kurt Busch on Lap 163 to retake the lead as Hamlin moved into the runner-up position.

On Lap 181, Harvick was forced to pit under green for a flat tire. When he returned to the track he was running 32nd and two laps down.

 

Brennan Poole wrecked off Turn 2 on Lap 185 to bring out a caution. All the lead-lap cars pit with Elliott the first off pit road.

On the restart on Lap 193, Elliott led the way followed by Hamlin and Truex.

Ryan Preece spun on Lap 216 in Turn 2 to bring out the yellow. A handful of lead-lap cars pit, including Elliott, which handed the lead over to Hamlin.

The race returned to green on Lap 222. Elliott restarted 16th in new tires.

By Lap 237, Elliott had moved up to second behind leader Hamlin. Elliot got to the inside of Hamlin and moved back into the lead on Lap 240.

With 10 laps to go in the stage, Elliott’s lead over Hamlin had expanded to 2.4 seconds with Truex in third.

Stage 1

Hamlin pit late and ran down Elliott for the lead on fresher tires and held off Bowman to take the Stage 1 victory.

Keselowski was third, Elliott fourth and Logano rounded out the top-five.

Keselowski started on the pole and led the first three laps until Truex got around him on Lap 4 to grab the lead as Hamlin moved into second.

On Lap 61, NASCAR issued a competition caution to allow teams to check tire wear. All the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Truex the first off pit road.

When the race restarted on Lap 69, Truex was followed by Elliott and Logano.

On Lap 73, Bowyer got spun in Turn 1 by Almirola and collected Austin Dillon in the incident to bring out a caution.

 

Truex continued to lead on the restart on Lap 80, followed by Elliott and Logano.

Elliott finally got to the inside of Truex on the frontstretch and grabbed the lead for the first time in the race on Lap 89.

With 30 laps remaining in the first stage, Elliott maintained a small advantage over Truex while Hamlin ran close behind in third.

Garrett Smithley came to a stop on the track in Turn 4 to bring out a caution on Lap 105. Many lead-lap cars pit but Elliott remained on the track and in the lead.

Both Bubba Wallace (removing equipment) and Blaney (speeding on pit road) had to restart the race from the rear of the field,

On Lap 110 the race restarted with Elliott out front followed by Almirola and Truex.

Hamlin, on fresher tires, got the inside of Elliott on Lap 113 to take the lead for the first time.

Joey Gase got hit by Quin Houff in Turn 4 and came to a stop on the track to bring out a caution on Lap 116. The race returned to green on Lap 121 with Hamlin leading the way followed by Elliott.

Bowman got around Elliott for the second position on Lap 123.

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Gap Interval Laps Led
1 9 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 500 3:40'26.259     236
2 12 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 500 3:40'32.836 6.577 6.577 36
3 22 United States Joey Logano Ford 500 3:40'34.293 8.034 1.457 19
4 2 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 500 3:40'34.715 8.456 0.422 3
5 1 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 500 3:40'36.244 9.985 1.529 23
6 88 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 500 3:40'36.305 10.046 0.061 1
7 10 United States Aric Almirola Ford 500 3:40'36.361 10.102 0.056  
8 14 United States Clint Bowyer Ford 500 3:40'39.118 12.859 2.757  
9 18 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 500 3:40'41.969 15.710 2.851 5
10 21 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 500 3:40'42.900 16.641 0.931  
11 11 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 500 3:40'43.971 17.712 1.071 42
12 20 United States Erik Jones Toyota 500 3:40'44.587 18.328 0.616  
13 41 United States Cole Custer Ford 500 3:40'45.323 19.064 0.736  
14 42 United States Matt Kenseth Chevrolet 500 3:40'45.363 19.104 0.040  
15 95 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 500 3:40'46.891 20.632 1.528  
16 13 United States Ty Dillon Chevrolet 500 3:40'48.115 21.856 1.224  
17 4 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 500 3:40'57.147 30.888 9.032  
18 6 United States Ryan Newman Ford 499 3:40'27.831 1 Lap 1 Lap  
19 37 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 499 3:40'27.989 1 Lap 0.158  
20 47 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 499 3:40'28.166 1 Lap 0.177  
21 43 United States Bubba Wallace Chevrolet 499 3:40'30.290 1 Lap 2.124  
22 19 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 499 3:40'45.312 1 Lap 15.022 129
23 3 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 498 3:40'27.324 2 Laps 1 Lap  
24 8 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 498 3:40'29.247 2 Laps 1.923  
25 32 United States Corey Lajoie Ford 498 3:40'31.645 2 Laps 2.398 6
26 38 United States John Hunter Nemechek Ford 498 3:40'47.072 2 Laps 15.427  
27 96 Mexico Daniel Suarez Toyota 497 3:40'26.496 3 Laps 1 Lap  
28 34 United States Michael McDowell Ford 497 3:40'34.127 3 Laps 7.631  
29 66 United States Timmy Hill Toyota 495 3:40'32.110 5 Laps 2 Laps  
30 48 United States Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 495 3:40'33.279 5 Laps 1.169  
31 27 United States J.J. Yeley Ford 494 3:40'30.633 6 Laps 1 Lap  
32 7 United States Josh Bilicki Chevrolet 490 3:40'38.611 10 Laps 4 Laps  
33 00 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 489 3:40'35.547 11 Laps 1 Lap  
34 51 United States Joey Gase Ford 447 3:31'02.365 53 Laps 42 Laps  
35 24 United States William Byron Chevrolet 439 3:14'46.242 61 Laps 8 Laps  
36 53 Australia James Davison Ford 422 3:19'58.480 78 Laps 17 Laps  
37 15 United States Brennan Poole Chevrolet 184 1:28'45.571 316 Laps 238 Laps  
38 17 United States Chris Buescher Ford 146 1:08'00.151 354 Laps 38 Laps  
39 77 United States Garrett Smithley Chevrolet 100 43'37.584 400 Laps 46 Laps  

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