Chase Elliott returns to form with win at Road America

Chase Elliott returns to form with win at Road America



A.J. Allmendinger

Elliott took command of the race on Lap 46 of the 62-lap race, as Kyle Busch passed Aric Almirola on the restart and Elliott then cleared Busch in Turn 12 to grab the lead for the final time.

On Lap 59, Christopher Bell got around Busch to move into second but couldn’t mount a serious challenge and finished 5.7 seconds behind Elliott.

 

The win is Elliott’s second this season – the other came in a rain-shortened race at Circuit of the Americas.

In his career, seven of Elliott’s 13 wins have now come on road courses.

“Just really proud of our team for overcoming some adversity early and having to start in the back, having good pit stops. Had a really fast Chevrolet. Just so proud,” Elliott said.

“We’ve had a rough few weeks, so it feels really good. I guess I was supposed to do a burnout here (in Turn 5), I’m sorry. I missed the memo. I did a really cool one on the frontstretch.”

On the challenge of tackling a new track in the Cup Series, Elliott said, “This track has a lot of character to it. It’s so long. You have a lot of opportunity to make mistakes or be good whenever you hit it.

“I mean, four miles is a long course. Just has a lot of character to it, a lot of bumps, a lot of sections that are really tricky to get through. I think conserving your tire was actually a little bit of a thing today, which to be honest we don’t have much of that I feel like any more.

“It was a little different race.”

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

Completing the top-10 were Chase Briscoe (who tied his career high), Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick, Martin Truex Jr. and Matt DiBenedetto.

Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, several cars pit but Kyle Busch stayed out and took over the lead.

On the restart on Lap 33, Kyle Busch was followed by Elliott and DiBenedetto.

DiBenedetto was able to get around Busch near Turn 12 on the restart lap and reclaimed the lead.

Elliott went to the inside of DiBenedetto entering Turn 1 on Lap 38 and came away with the lead for the first time in the race.

 

On Lap 43, Anthony Alfredo blew a right-rear brake rotor, went off course in Turn 1 and ended up stuck in the gravel trap. That brought out a caution, setting up what could be the final pit stops of the race.

Ryan Blaney had pit just before the caution to repair damage to his hood which set himself up for a big gain in track position on the restart.

Most of the lead-lap cars pit under the caution with Kyle Busch the first off pit road. Almirola stayed out and inherited the lead.

On the restart on Lap 46, Almirola was followed by Blaney, Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Elliott.

Kyle Busch went to the outside in Turn 2 and grabbed the lead on the restart only to see Elliott power by him in Turn 12 to reclaim the top spot.

William Byron spun and went off course in Turn 5 on Lap 49 but was able to return to the track and continue.

With 10 laps to go, Elliott had opened up a 3.4-second lead over Kyle Busch while Bell and passed Larson and moved into third.

On Lap 57, Alex Bowman attempted a pass for position on Larson but hit and spun him around. Bowman moved to fourth and Larson dropped to 10th.

Bowman, however, developed a tire rub on his No. 48 Chevrolet and was forced to pit under green on Lap 59. On the same lap, Bell got around Kyle Busch to move into the runner-up position.

Stage 2

Reddick took over the lead when several drivers pit under green and held off Byron to take the Stage 2 win.

Chastain was third, Kyle Larson fourth and Kurt Busch completed the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, most of the field pit but Truex stayed out and inherited the lead. Byron was first off pit road among those who pit.

During that round of stops, Brad Keselowski and Cole Custer were penalized for having a crew member over the wall too soon and Bell drove through too many pit boxes. All had to restart from the rear of the field.

The race returned to green on Lap 17 with Truex out front followed by DiBenedetto and Austin Cindric. Byron lined up 10th.

Cindric went three-wide on the restart and came away with the lead in Turn 1.

 

By Lap 18, Byron – on fresher tires – had already cracked the top-five and was closing in on fourth-place Truex.

A cross-over move by DiBenedetto got him the lead for the first time on Lap 19 as Cindric dropped to second and Kyle Busch ran third.

On Lap 21, Hamlin went off course in Turn 5 and plowed through the gravel pit but was able to get back on track and continue.

Cindric got back around DiBenedetto on Lap 24 but went wide in Turn 5 and ran off course, turning the lead over to Kyle Busch for the first time in the race.

Cindric appeared to have suffered mechanical damage from his incident and had to limp around the track to pit road. He eventually had to take his No. 33 Ford to the garage.

 

With three laps remaining in the stage, numerous teams elected to pit lead by Elliott.

Reddick inherited the lead with two to go as Kyle Busch and Truex pit under green.

Truex was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart the final stage from the rear of the field.

Stage 1

Byron claimed the Stage 1 win under caution as a late-race caution for a car stuck in the gravel trap produced an extended cleanup.

A.J. Allmendinger finished second, Larson third, Reddick fourth and Chastain rounded out the top-five.

Byron started on the pole and led the first two laps until NASCAR displayed a caution on Lap 3 when Daniel Suarez’s No. 99 Chevrolet stalled on the track near Turn 6.

The race returned to green on Lap 5 with Byron still in the lead followed by Larson and Allmendinger.

With seven laps remaining in the stage, Larson went briefly off course in Turn 5 as he tried to get around Byron for the lead. Allmendinger moved up to second as Larson dropped to third.

On Lap 7, Ryan Preece appeared to lose the engine in his No. 37 Chevrolet but was able to pull his car onto the access road, which prevented a caution from having to be displayed.

With four laps to go, Byron had opened up a 1.1-second lead over Allmendinger as Larson remained in third.

On Lap 12, Kyle Tilley went off course and got stuck in the gravel trap, which forced NASCAR to display a caution.

A handful of cars had pit just before the incident and Austin Dillon was penalized for speeding on pit road. Michael McDowell and Briscoe both drove through too many pit boxes during their respective stops. All three had to restart from the rear of the field.

NASCAR was not able to clean the debris from the track before the completion of the stage.

Six drivers had to start from the rear of the field – Kyle Busch and Preece for backup cars, Bubba Wallace for a transmission change, Justin Haley for an engine change and Quin Houff, Josh Bilicki and Tilley for unapproved adjustments.

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