He finally was able to put it all together.
On a hot northeast Monday afternoon in Dover, Dawsonville’s favorite son snapped a 46 race winless streak on ovals and took the checkered flag for the first time in 2022. Chase Elliott hung around all day in the top ten and just when it looked like he was going to get burned by pit strategy yet again, a timely caution helped put his number 9 in position.
On the final restart, Elliott had to outduel a red hot Ross Chastain and once he took the lead, he stayed out front for the entirety of the final run. The win set a huge milestone for Hendrick Motorsports, who became the first team in the history of the sport to have 4 different winners in the first eleven races.
When he got out of his car for his post-race interview, the 2020 Champion conveyed a mixture of joy and relief. He thanked his crew chief, Alan Gustafson and his team and summed up how much this win meant to him and his passionate fanbase. “I’m just so proud. This one means a lot in a lot of different ways,” Elliott remarked.
As vindicated as Chase Elliott must feel tonight, the runner up has to feel a huge amount of pride with his performance as well. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got his best finish of the season in a magical run by his single car team. Stenhouse hadn’t had a top twenty since Fontana in February.
Third place on the podium went to Ross Chastain, but not without a dust-up with former Dover winner Martin Truex Jr. On the final lap, Chastain blocked Truex on the backstretch and the scrum sent Truex spinning into the inside wall. He was able to rally the Bass Pro Shops Toyota to a respectable 12th, but was visibly unhappy with Chastain during a post race conversation.
Chastain joked afterward, “We were talking about where we’re going fishing next week.”
Christopher Bell brought home a good result in fourth while last year’s winner Alex Bowman finished in 5th. Despite struggles that included a spin during stage two, Kyle Larson was sixth, followed by laps led leader Kyle Busch in seventh. Pole sitter Chris Buescher notched a good run with an eighth place finish with Kevin Harvick in ninth. Erik Jones rounded out the top ten in yet another impressive showing in the famous 43.
Denny Hamlin looked like the guy to beat after winning stage one, but a loose wheel that came off on pit road put the 11 behind and just when it looked like he was going to recover and contend once again, he was caught up in a spin involving Cody Ware. When penalties are assessed later in the week, Hamlin could be without crew chief Chris Gabehart, among others.
Ryan Blaney won stage two after a gamble on tires, but an issue late in the race put YRB two laps down and out of contention. Chase Elliott continues to lead the points standings over Blaney who is now 50 points behind.
The Next Gen car put on a good show at Dover, providing above average lead changes and really good side by side racing. I don’t know if you can consider Dover a short track, but if you do, then this was the best short track race it’s put on since The Clash.
Attendance seemed up despite the washout on Sunday, so hopefully Dover will still be on the schedule for years to come. It’s one of the most difficult and brutal race tracks on the schedule and it’s okay that it only has one date now, but after today I think it’s certainly deserving of that date.
Next week the Cup Series heads to Darlington for one of the coolest weekends in the sport: throwback weekend.
Ring the siren loud and proud Dawsonville. There’s no weak links at Hendrick Motorsports and they’ve all got wins to prove it now.
Phot credit to @NASCAR the official Twitter account of NASCAR