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NASCAR Cup: Chase Elliott wins All-Star Race at Bristol

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – JULY 15: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 UniFirst Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on July 15, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway welcomed approximately 30,000 fans to the 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race, moved to Bristol from Charlotte Motor Speedway because of a COVID-19 spike in North Carolina, on Wednesday night. As a result, the largest in-person crowd for a NASCAR event since a return to racing from a break for the coronavirus pandemic, saw the NASCAR Cup Series’ two-time reigning Most Popular Driver, Chase Elliott, win the exhibition event.

“Just a special night, a special event,” Elliott said. ”Any race is hard to win, but this is a special race to win, something that locks you in the All‑Star Race for life. That’s extremely special to join dad (NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott). Winning this race means a lot to me, as well. Just a big thanks to our partners, UniFirst, NAPA, Hooter’s, Kelley Blue Book, Mountain Dew, Chevrolet, all our partners that make this go around. They stood by us through some not‑so‑spectacular years. We’ve had a rough couple weeks. We ruined Mr. (car owner Rick) Hendrick’s birthday on Sunday by running pathetic. It was really nice to slightly make up for that tonight.”

Kyle Busch took second on the final restart following a lap-125 caution that marked the end of the third stage in the four-stage, 140-lap race to take runner-up honors. 

“It just wasn’t quite wide enough,” Busch said. “If it had been a little bit wider and you could carry a little more speed with it, I might have had a chance. I tried to run up there early in the last stage to make it go a little earlier than I probably should have. I went back down because I knew I wasn’t going to catch him (Elliott) or pass him there, and I had to do something different. I just tried and I think we inched up a little closer on him, but that was about it. The M&Ms Camry, we’re trying hard and we’re running okay. It seemed like we were mired in 10th most of tonight and, then, the last couple adjustments really helped us. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) did a great job helping the car and making it better. I got a good restart. I think I went from 12th all the way up to fifth so that was a huge bonus for us getting that track position. Overall, just have to keep fighting. I think that four or five second places this year, what do you do? We just have to keep going. Have to thank M&Ms for supporting us. Interstate Batteries, Snickers, Toyota and Rowdy Energy – we’ll go fight next week.”

Kevin Harvick finished third, and Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five.

Elliott and Ryan Blaney combined to lead all but eight laps of the race, with Blaney leading a race-high 72 laps before finishing six.

After official pole sitter Martin Truex Jr. dropped to the back for the initial green flag because of an issue getting through inspection, Blaney took the race lead on lap three. The first 55-lap stage of the race included a caution for an incident involving Kurt Busch and Keselowski as they raced for fourth position on lap eighth. Blaney was up front after the restart and was the stage-one winner on lap 55.

Harvick and Elliott were the first two drivers off pit road after the opening stage. Harvick led early in the second stage before Elliott took the lead on a restart following a caution for a Ryan Newman spin on lap 57. Elliott remained up front to win the second stage at lap 90.

Blaney was back up front to start the third stage after staying while while everyone else pitted. Elliott, though, passed him for the lead on lap 110 and ran up front the remainder of the race.

Other top-10 finishers included Joey Logano in seventh, Bowman in eighth, Aric Almirola in ninth and Truex in 10th.

Almirola was among the four drivers who advanced from the preliminary 85-lap NASCAR Open. He advanced by winning the opening stage on lap 35. He led the entire stage that included a caution on lap 18 when contact between pole sitter Michael McDowell and Darrell Wallace Jr. resulted in a Wallace wreck. McDowell’s contact looked intentional and retaliatory after Wallace previously made contact to pass him for position.

“Oh, just disrespect,” Wallace said in a TV interview on FOX Sports 1. “When you get hooked into the wall – my hair looks terrible. Sorry, Mom. When you get hooked the right-rear into the wall – I don’t even need to see a replay. Look at that. Yeah, wow. People say one of the nicest guys in the garage. Can’t wait for the God-fearing text he’s going to send me about preaching and praising respect. What a joke he is.”

William Byron advanced to the All-Star Race after winning the second stage of the Open. When Almirola dropped out of the Open with his stage-one win, Byron assumed the lead for the second stage and led all the second stage that included a caution for a lap-37 incident for Ryan Preece and John Hunter Nemechek on lap 37.

DiBenedetto was up front for the 15-lap sprint to the finish that was the third and final stage of the open and remained up front to win the final stage and secure his advancement to the All-Star Race.

Clint Bowyer was the final driver to advance to the All-Star Race, courtesy of the online fan vote. The previous week, Bowyer, Wallace, DiBenedetto, Byron and Almirola were announced as the top-five in fan voting with a week remaining in the polling and Wallace in the lead. Wallace was unable to advance after his wreck, and DiBenedetto, Byron and Almirola had already secured advancement to the main event through stage wins.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway:

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Posted by on July 18, 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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