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NASCAR Cup: Chase Elliott advances title hopes with Martinsville win

Playoff contender Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, celebrates his victory Sunday, November 1, 2020 during the 3rd of 3 the Playoff’s Round of 8 NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Chase secured his first Championship 4 appearance by winning his 4th victory of 2020 and 10th of his career. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Chase Elliott claimed his fourth win of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season Sunday in the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. With the win, he claimed one of four berths into the championship battle Nov. 8 at Phoenix Raceway.

Elliott will join Joey Logano, who won two weeks earlier at Kansas Speedway; Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin in the battle for the 2020 title.

“I thought I was part race car driver part mathematician,” Keselowski said. ”I can only imagine what my wife was feeling. She’s here in a suite watching, let alone my fans, but I’m really happy for Team Penske to have two cars in. Just a hard-fought day. Got a speeding penalty, there, with like 70-80 to go, and I’m not sure how. The box where i got the speeding penalty is where my car was pitted, so I don’t know. I’ll have to figure that one out later, but just really thankful to be going to the championship four.”

Regular season champion Kevin Harvick was among the four drivers eliminated, despite nine wins this season, after crashing with Kyle Busch in turn four on the final lap. Harvick struggled throughout the race. he was outside the top-20 when he made an unscheduled green-flag pit stop for a flat left-rear tire around lap 180. He went two laps down as a result of the stop, getting one lap back with a wave-around during a lap-185 caution for Brennan Poole and the other with a free pass during a caution for James Davison with 100 laps remaining.

“Look, these championship aren’t like winning like Petty and Earnhardt used to win them,” Harvick said. ”You have to put them together three weeks at a time, and it comes down to one race, and it came down to one race for us tonight and came up short.”

Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney, Logano and Keselowski finished second through fourth at Martinsville on Sunday, while Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. 

Elliott led a race-high 236 laps but gave up the lead on pit road during a caution for Timmy Hill with 149 laps remaining. He restarted fourth, barely missing a restart from the back when he was assessed a penalty for his jackman going over the wall too soon. The penalty was rescinded, though, when his jackman ran back and tagged the pit wall before servicing the car.

Elliott lost additional positions during the Davison caution. He was up to fourth in the running order after final pit stops during a caution for his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, William Byron, with 60 laps remaining. On lap 466, Elliott retook the lead from Martin Truex Jr.

After the Hill caution, Logano and Blaney led laps before Truex took the lead on the restart from the Davison caution. Several laps after Truex lost the lead to Elliott, Truex made an unscheduled green-flag pit stop for a loose wheel. Truex was second to Elliott in the laps-led category, running up front for 129 laps.

“We had a great car all day long and just kept making adjustments waiting for it to cool off and get dark,” Truex said. “That last run, there, before the final pit stop, the thing was on rails, and it was perfect and we were driving away. I felt really good about it. Then, we pitted and had a pretty good pit stop. Came out with the lead, and right away I knew something was wrong. I was really, really tight and had a vibration. The 9 (Elliott) car passed us, and we started dropping and had to pit for a loose wheel. Unfortunate. I think we should be the one in victory lane right now, but you have to do it all. Just a little mistake, there.”

Elliott meanwhile, pulled away.

Hamlin and Elliott were stage winners, with Hamlin winning the opening 130-lap stage and Elliott the second stage that ended at lap 260.

After Truex took the lead from pole sitter Keselowski on lap four, Truex and Elliott led laps before Hamlin took his stage-winning lead on lap 113.

Kurt Busch led early in the second stage after he and brother Kyle Busch stayed out during the caution after the opening stage. Elliott took the lead on lap 163 and led most of the remainder of the stage.

Elliott gave up the lead to pit during a caution for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on lap 216, but on newer tires, he retook the lead on lap 240.

Finishing sixth through 10th were Alex Bowman, Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch and Matt DiBenedetto.

Below is the complete finishing order of the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway:

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Posted by on November 2, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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