In solely his fifth NASCAR Cup Sequence season, Chase Elliott is proving himself a street course grasp, simply besting the sector Sunday on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval and extra importantly, the 24-year previous continues to ascertain himself as a perennial championship contender.
Elliott‘s win within the Financial institution of America ROVAL 400 Playoff race was his fourth consecutive street course victory, a mark of excellence shared solely with NASCAR Corridor of Famer Jeff Gordon, who gained six straight street course races. It‘s his second consecutive win on this race and Sunday‘s trophy is an computerized qualifier for Elliott into the three-race Playoff Spherical of 8, which begins subsequent week at Kansas Speedway.
Elliott‘s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet tied teammate William Byron for many laps led — a race finest 26 laps on the day together with the ultimate 18, as he held off runner-up Joey Logano by a wholesome 3.895-seconds to earn his third win of the yr.
Erik Jones, Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney rounded out the highest 5. Elliott‘s Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron was sixth, adopted by Martin Truex Jr., Hendrick driver Alex Bowman, rookie Cole Custer and Clint Bowyer, who was attempting to race his means into the following Playoff spherical however didn’t transfer ahead regardless of the highest 10 effort.
“Simply had one other actually quick NAPA Camaro and actually recognize the trouble,” Elliott stated. “Street programs have been lucky to us the previous few journeys, however I really feel like we simply attempt to get just a little higher each time, tweak on the small issues. I really feel like I tweaked on small issues and obtained just a little higher than I used to be right here final yr, which was good.
“Simply actually pleased with the trouble.”
The Roval was the second spherical Playoff cut-off race — sending eight drivers ahead and eliminating title hopes for 4. None of these 4 drivers – together with reigning NASCAR Cup Sequence champion Kyle Busch – nonetheless needing to realize factors to advance, had been in a position to enhance positions Sunday afternoon.
Busch, Bowyer, Austin Dillon and Aric Almirola have dropped out of championship eligibility because the sequence strikes on to Playoff races in Kansas, Texas and Martinsville, Va. earlier than the Nov. Eight championship finale in Phoenix.
The Playoffs standings had been reset following the Roval checkered flag with regular-season champion Kevin Harvick, a nine-race winner, topping the chart by 13 factors over Denny Hamlin. Brad Keselowski is 32 factors again in third place adopted by Elliott, Logano, Truex, Bowman and Kurt Busch, who gained his means into the following spherical with a victory at Las Vegas three weeks in the past.
Kyle Busch‘s exit marks the primary time a reigning sequence champion didn’t advance to the Spherical of Eight and it’ll mark the primary time in six years that Busch was not a part of the Championship four that decides the game‘s final trophy.
“Simply been the yr, nothing has performed out or been on our facet, it‘s simply been unlucky circumstances and loads of unhealthy luck,” stated Busch, driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
“These guys on this M&Ms crew by no means surrender they usually combat all yr lengthy, each race, each lap, each pit cease as we are able to see. However man, that is simply a type of off-years, a horrible yr for me. However as different sports activities greats would say, ‘there‘s many different drivers that may like to have the yr we‘re having.’
Busch entered the race, ranked ninth and needing to make up 21 factors to nudge his means into the following spherical of the Playoffs — however like all drivers confronted a difficult afternoon that featured rain tires on the vehicles for the primary time in modern-day competitors.
Busch‘s day obtained particularly dramatic, nonetheless, after the sector modified again to slick tires as soon as the threatening climate cleared shortly earlier than the opening stage accomplished. His No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota suffered damage mid-race after a collision with Bowyer. Nonetheless, Busch‘s crew chief Adam Stevens saved the two-time sequence champion calm and able to rally and he responded — making his means again up via the sector.
He was operating fourth when the vehicles in entrance of him pit throughout a late-race warning. Busch stayed on monitor and led three laps, however he was quickly handed — his tires 20 laps older than the others who pit. In the end, he completed 30th needing to pit on the following to final lap for gasoline.
Bowyer was one in all solely two drivers (additionally Bowman) to have top-five finishes in each earlier races on the monitor. Bowyer’s 10th-place end ended his Playoff run however it was spectacular contemplating he drove a lot of the race with no energy steering. He was exhausted after the race and went to the infield care middle to be checked out.
Almirola‘s day featured comparable struggles. He had a spin and was simply by no means in a position to maintain a run front-pack. He completed 16th unable to make up floor on the 48-point deficit he began the race with.
“It was powerful man,” Almirola conceded. “I battle right here, specifically. I‘m not the best street course racer and particularly right here has been a problem for me.
“Not the day we wanted, for certain, to maneuver on. However we‘ve nonetheless obtained 4 races to go to carry out at our highest degree.”
On the opposite finish of the emotional spectrum, the 27-year previous Bowman shall be making his first look within the Playoff Spherical of 8. Earlier this week, Hendrick Motorsports introduced Bowman shall be driving Jimmie Johnson‘s No. 48 Chevrolet subsequent yr, transferring from the No. 88 when the seven-time champion Johnson retires from full-time competitors.
Definitely Bowman‘s work on monitor this weekend was well-timed success as he prepares for the enviable transfer subsequent season. At instances on Sunday, he was on the verge of elimination. However after climbing out of his automobile he totally conceded it had been a nerve-wracking drive despite his top-10 performance.
“It‘s loads of validation for us to make that spherical,” Bowman stated. “When you’re racing champions of the game to advance you’re by no means comfy, particularly when it’s Kyle Busch.”
As for Elliott, the victory and historic significance had been a well-timed enhance heading into the following Playoff spherical as he makes an attempt to earn his first-ever look within the Championship four making a run for his first NASCAR Cup Sequence title. He gained the 2018 Playoff race at subsequent week‘s Kansas Speedway oval.
“Like I‘ve all the time stated, they‘re means too laborious to get [wins] to get choosy about when and the place and the way,” Elliott stated. “So I‘m simply glad to be right here and like I stated, hopefully we are able to do one thing with this subsequent spherical.”
Word: Inspection within the NASCAR Cup Sequence storage was all clear with no points. the No. 1 automobile (Kurt Busch) had one lug-nut not protected and safe.