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NASCAR Cup: Chase Elliott wins third-straight road-course race

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – AUGUST 16: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, waits on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling 235 at Daytona International Speedway on August 16, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Chase Elliott held off Denny Hamlin in the final three laps of the GoBowling.com 235 on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course on Sunday to claim his second NASCAR Cup Seriews win of the season in the series’ first-ever race on the Daytona road course. The win was Elliott’s seventh-career win and his fourth on a road course, the last three in the last three road-road course races.

“Our guys did a phenomenal job,” Elliott said. “We just had a phenomenal car. 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, there, 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.”

Hamlin finished second. 

“I just would have liked to have stayed closer to him (Elliott) to put a little pressure on entries,” Hamlin said. “My entries were the strong point against him, but I was giving him four car-lengths, so he could kind of drive the entries the way he wanted to make sure he got a good exit. I wasn’t quite clean enough the last few laps, but I definitely gave myself a chance. Those last couple corners, I felt like I did as much as I could to get to him and tried to do it the right way.”

One of Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Martin Truex Jr., passed Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, on the final lap to finish third for the fifth-straight race. Johnson finished fourth, and Chris Buescher rounded out the top-five.

The final three-lap sprint to the final was the result of a Kyle Busch wreck with five laps to go. Busch struggled all race. Spinning and flat-spotting his tires on lap three and, again, on lap 25. He got back up to second before heading to the garage with a brake problem inside the final 20 laps.

Busch’s wreck resulted in the only caution of the race for an on-track incident, with the only yellow flags coming at the end of the first two stages and for lightning after lap 36. The lightning caution led into a 30-minute red flag.

Elliott was up front after the second stage ended on lap 30 and led most of the remaining distance. He gave up the lead to make his final pit stop under green with 17 laps remaining, but he was back up front when the cycle completed five laps later. In all, he led 34 of the 65 laps that made up the race.

Elliott also won the opening 15-lap stage of the race. Hamlin took the lead from pole sitter Kevin Harvick on the opening lap, and Hamlin and Truex led most of the first stage before pitting under green late in the stage, Truex handing the lead to Elliott. Elliott waited until after the opening stage to make his initial pit stop.

Although Harvick started on the pole, he failed to lead a lap. He spun twice in the second half of the race and finished outside the top-10.

Joey Logano waited until lap 21 to make his first stop, originally planning to run the race on two pit stops as everyone else was expected to stop three times. Logano, though, made a third pit stop for tires during Busch’s late-race caution and wound up ninth at the checkered flag.

Hamlin and Logano were back up to the top-two of the running order early in the second stage. Truex took the lead from Hamlin on lap 22, but before the stage ended, he gave up that lead to pit. Hamlin, though, stayed out to win the second stage at lap 30.

Truex, on his second stop, was caught speeding on pit road.

“Just a strong run for our Bass Pro Toyota,” Truex said. “Thought we had a chance to win, no doubt about it. Just got caught speeding on pit road. Had to go to the rear and, then, got damage, so we had to go to the rear, again. We passed a lot of cars that last run. I know we had the speed at the end, there; we were faster than anyone. Just ran out of time, but that’s how it goes. Proud of everybody on the team and still feeling really good about these road courses.”

Unlike in the first stage, Elliott pitted before the end of the second stage and cycled back to the front when pit stops were completed at the end of the stage.

Clint Bowyer finished sixth, and Kaz Grala finished seventh in his Cup Series debut. Grala was Austin Dillon’s substitute in the No. 3 after Dillon tested positive for COVID-19. William Byron was eighth. Michigan McDowell got by Erik Jones on the final lap for his first top-10 finish on a road course.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the GoBowling.com 235:

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Posted by on August 17, 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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