Elliott Shakes Off Rough Week, Earns First Win of Season in Alsco 500 at Charlotte
It was another action packed week of racing on the NASCAR circuit this week with a pair of races coming to you from Charlotte Motor Speedway. After Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 went to overtime before Brad Keselowski came up with a victory, rain put the Alsco 500 off Wednesday night. Twenty-four hours later, the racing returned to the track and made up for the delay with another entertaining race. In the end, it was 500 kilometers (312 miles) of zipping around the track with a driver who had come up just short in his last couple of starts finally coming up with the checkered flag to show for his efforts.
Chase Elliott, who suffered a late crash that dropped him from second to 38th at Darlington last week and handed Denny Hamlin the win, then finished second at the Coca-Cola 600 after pitting following a late caution caused by William Byron, took the lead late in the race Thursday to earn his first win of the year. It marked his fourth top-five finish in eight starts this season. The victory marked his second win in three days on the track as he claimed the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series NC Education Lottery 200 Charlotte on Tuesday night before taking the win on Thursday night for the Cup Series. After the race, Elliott had this to say about the victory:
“It feels awesome. Man, it was a tough week, for sure. We’ve had some tough losses, but that deal on Sunday night was a heartbreaker. It’s not the Coca-Cola 600, but any win in the Cup Series is really hard to get, and I really appreciate everybody at Hendrick Motorsports across the street, Chevrolet, and everybody at the shop have been working really hard. … I appreciate my team. Alan (Gustafson) made a great call there at the end to get it tuned up and, luckily, the run went long and I think that fell in our favor.
Tropical Depression Bertha did its best to try and keep the race off the books as it created a 75-minute delay after lap 28 thanks to lightning in the area. Once that cleared away, the cars went back on the track and the race was continued to its eventual conclusion.
Joey Logano earned the win in the first stage of the race while Alex Bowman logged the stage two win for his fourth stage victory on the track this week. Things turned out differently for the two racers at the end however, as Logano finished sixth while Bowman hit the wall on lap 136 and ended up finishing 31st, two laps off the pace, when all was said and done. Elliott took the lead on lap 181 and held the edge the rest of the way, holding off Hamlin by 2.208 seconds en route to the victory. Ryan Blaney ended up finishing third, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kurt Busch rounding out the top five.
Eight different drivers held the lead in the race with six of those leading for double-digit laps. Kevin Harvick led a race-high 63 laps before finishing 10th at the end. Bowman held the lead for 51 laps before finishing 31st, Logano was at the front for 42 laps en route to a sixth-place finish and Elliott led the final 28 laps en route to the win. Byron led 11 laps and finished 12th after holding the pole for the race and Matt DiBenedetto (10 laps, 15th-place finish) also led double-digit laps. Blaney (two laps, third) and Michael McDowell (one, 25th) were the only other racers to lead a lap in the race. Logano, Bowman, Blaney, Harvick, Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch and Elliott each finished in the top 10 of both stages of the race. Elliott, Blaney, Logano, Busch, Dillon and Harvick all finished in the top 10 of both stages and finished in the top 10 of the race.
There’s a quick turnaround for the next race as the circuit moves to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Supermarket Heroes 500 Sunday. That race will take place at 3:30 pm ET with television coverage coming to you from Fox Sports 1 and the Performance Racing Network. As part of the reshuffling due to the rain Wednesday, the Xfinity Series race was moved from Saturday night to Monday night, the day after the NASCAR Cup Series race. Heading into that race, Harvick maintains his points lead though it has been trimmed to just 14 over Logano. Elliott is third (41 points behind), while Bowman (43 behind Harvick) and Keselowski (66 back) round out the top five.