CONCORD, N.C. — Chase Elliott’s streak of bitter defeats in NASCAR’s frantic first push of rescheduled races lastly ended along with his first Cup victory of the season.
Elliott received Thursday night time within the rain-delayed occasion at Charlotte Motor Speedway to shut a brutal 12 days for NASCAR. The occasion, postponed Wednesday night time, was the fourth Cup race because the sequence resumed racing Could 17.
Elliott had two irritating losses in that span, together with defeat Sunday night time within the Coca-Cola 600 when a warning flew two laps from the end with Elliott main.
“Man, it’s been a tricky week for certain,” Elliott mentioned. “We’ve had some powerful losses however that deal on Sunday night time was a heart-breaker.”
Elliott’s frustration started final week — three Cup races in the past — when he was making an attempt to race for the lead at Darlington Raceway and was wrecked by Kyle Busch.
Then he had the 600 checkered flag in web site till a warning attributable to his personal teammate. Elliott pitted from the lead, took 4 tires and couldn’t get again to the entrance within the two-lap additional time dash.
There was little suspense on this one. Elliott reeled in Kevin Harvick with 27 laps remaining and closed out the victory. Elliott additionally received the Truck Collection race Tuesday night time at Charlotte to offer him a pair of victories in a four-race stretch on the observe a couple of minutes away from Hendrick Motorsports headquarters.
“It’s not the Coke 600, however any win within the Cup sequence is absolutely exhausting to get,” Elliott mentioned. “I simply actually respect everyone at Hendrick Motorsports throughout the road right here. All people’s been working actually exhausting.”
Elliott was charging exhausting on Harvick with about 35 laps remaining when he requested if he had sufficient gasoline to make it to the end. Crew chief Alan Gustafson replied, “Yup. Go exhausting.”
Elliott did simply that. However after passing Harvick, with nothing however clear observe in entrance of him, Elliott couldn’t assist however really feel haunted by Sunday night time.
“I used to be simply ready for the warning to return out,” he mentioned. “If the warning didn’t come out, I used to be pondering I used to be most likely going to interrupt one thing or I used to be going to crash. After the final final couple weeks, absolutely it was going to go inexperienced till the tip.
“Hopefully we’re again on the best path.”
Denny Hamlin completed second in a Toyota with three crew members sitting at residence underneath suspension for an infraction Sunday night time. His crew chief, automobile chief and engineer earned automated four-race suspensions when a bit of tungsten fell off Hamlin’s automobile on a tempo lap.
As a result of NASCAR is holding all its occasions as sooner or later reveals with out qualifying or apply, Hamlin mentioned his Joe Gibbs Racing group was capable of push via the upheaval.
“The sooner or later format makes it simpler for us,” Hamlin mentioned. “If we had qualifying it might positively damage. However underneath these circumstances that we’re in it doesn’t damage that unhealthy.”
Ryan Blaney was third in a Ford for Crew Penske, adopted by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for JTG-Daughtery Racing, an amazing enhance after a foul resumption of the season. Stenhouse wrecked on the primary lap of the primary race and completed final, then was 25th and 24th earlier than Thursday.
Blaney, who’s one in all Elliott’s closest pals, has been internet hosting NASCAR’s hottest driver as the game has raced 4 instances in 5 nights at Charlotte. He mentioned Elliott was capable of refocus on the Truck Collection race after dropping the 600, then after beating Busch to earn a $100,000 bounty, Elliott shifted his consideration to the Cup race.
“We talked concerning the race and that’s simply unhealthy luck. He has had plenty of again luck,” Blaney mentioned. “With the 600, that stunk for him. We talked aobut it that night time however he was prepared for the Vehicles race. We did discuss and there was a pair hours of it. However he moved on and confirmed he may win two in a row.”
Hamlin thought all of the concentrate on Elliott’s losses was overblown.
“Generally cautions are usually not going to fall your approach,” Hamlin mentioned. “I feel everybody feels unhealthy as a result of it’s Chase and everybody loves him.”
Requested if he felt sorry for Elliott, Hamlin answered with a definitive “No.”
Elliott’s victory was the primary for a Chevrolet driver in NASCAR’s return to Cup racing. Harvick received the primary race again in a Ford, Hamlin received the second race in a Toyota and Brad Keselowski received the 600 in a Ford.
However Elliott and his Hendrick teammates have been very sturdy because the sequence got here again from a 10-week shutdown for the coronavirus pandemic. Elliott, Alex Bowman, William Byron and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson have all led laps — an enormous enhance for a group that has been rebuilding for a lot of the final three seasons.
The rescheduled Thursday occasion was disrupted by lightning and rain for almost 75 minutes after 30 laps had been accomplished.
NASCAR subsequent goes to Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on Sunday for a fifth Cup race in 15 days because the sequence makes an attempt to reschedule eight occasions in a frantic stretch of racing via Southern states.