Chase Elliott claimed his first career NASCAR Cup Series win in dramatic fashion Sunday afternoon at Watkins Glen International as he held off defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. down the stretch. The victory was also the 250th for Hendrick Motorsports.
Elliott and the SunEnergy1 team started from the third position and ran inside the top five for the majority of the first stage of the race.
With three laps remaining in the opening segment, the No. 9 team made a strategy call to have Elliott pit for four tires and fuel prior to the end of the stage, leaving him 18 th at the first green-checkered flag of the day on Lap 20.
The 22-year-old driver stayed on track during the caution between stages and moved back up to third for the ensuing restart at Lap 25. Two laps later, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native was running second when he made a successful move to take the race lead.
Elliott stayed in front for the final 14 laps of the middle segment to capture the Stage 2 victory. The stage win marked his third stage win of the season–all three of which have come in the past three weeks–and earned him 10 stage points and an additional playoff point.
Elliott lost the lead on the restart for the final segment but remained in second closely behind the leader. The SunEnergy1 team regained the lead after a round of pit stops under a caution on Lap 57. Over the final stretch of the race, Elliott remained in front all the way to the checkered flag, fending off defending champion Martin Truex Jr. to earn his first career Cup Series win and the 250 th victory for Hendrick Motorsports.
“Holy cow, what a thrill. I don’t know what to say,” Elliott said in victory lane. “Just so thrilled, so emotional. So much relief.”
As he made his way to Victory Lane, the driver of the No. 9 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 could feel the excitement and energy from the fans at Watkins Glen.
“That’s the coolest damn thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I just want y’all to know that. Very grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Let’s go get some more.”
Elliott had amassed eight runner-up finishes before capturing his first career Cup Series victory in his 99 th start – and it came at a road course. His father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, also collected eight runner-up finishes before his first win, which came at a road course–Riverside International Raceway in 1983.
Start / Finish: 3rd / 1st
Points Earned: 50
Points Standing: 11th / 619 points
Next Race: August 12, Consumers Energy 400, Michigan International Speedway
How to Watch or Listen: 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM Channel 90
The post Elliott Earns First Career NASCAR Cup Series Victory at Watkins Glen appeared first on NAPA Know How Blog.