Chase Elliott wins Watkins Glen from pole

by Justin Nguyen

The Monster Energy Cup Series‘ trip to Watkins Glen International has produced dramatic finishes over the years. In 2019’s case, Chase Elliott dominated the Go Bowling at The Glen from the pole before finding himself engaged in a pursuit from Martin Truex Jr. in the final stage. By the end, the Dawsonville native successfully prevented the 2017 champion from passing him to take the victory.

Elliott, the defending race winner after holding off Truex in a similar manner in the 2018 edition, started on the pole alongside Hendrick Motorsports team-mate William Byron. Ryan Blaney, who qualified nineteenth, started at the rear for unapproved adjustments.

Stages #1 and 2

The 20-lap opening stage saw Elliott lead from green to green-checkered flag in dominating fashion, but the battles behind him were especially prominent. After just one lap, Kyle Busch spun after making contact with Byron in turn one, though no caution was waved and he rejoined the race.

On lap 18, various drivers elected to pit before the stage break. On track, Byron and Busch tangled once again in the Bus Stop/Inner Loop chicane, with the former going through the grass.

By the end of the stage, Elliott led Denny Hamlin, Truex, Busch, Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, and Aric Almirola.

Between stages, Byron once again voiced his displeasure with Busch, leading to the former being sent through the Inner Loop grass for a second time. Elliott and the leaders pitted, with Busch being penalised for speeding on pit road, placing him at the back with Byron.

With Elliott pitting, Larson took the lead for Stage #2, while Elliott restarted seventh. On lap 26, Parker Kligerman spun in turn one, with no yellow flag called.

On lap 33, Reed Sorenson‘s mechanical troubles produced a caution, during which the Busch brothers pitted as the leaders remained on track. The race resumed with four laps to go in the stage as Elliott led the way.

Truex attempted to close the gap, but could not take the lead. Shortly before the end of the stage, Darrell Wallace Jr. spun into the tyre barrier, leading to the stage concluding under caution. Behind Elliott and Truex were Clint Bowyer, Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Jones, Blaney, and Johnson.

Stage #3

Elliott and Truex comprised the front row for the start of the final stage.

As the two battled, Ryan Newman fell off the pace with a flat right-front tyre and pitted, but drove through too many pit boxes and suffered a penalty. On lap 53, Daniel Hemric spun into a tyre barrier and sustained rear damage.

Green flag stops began on lap 59, with Elliott pitting to surrender the lead to Truex. Truex did the same two laps later, which enabled Elliott to regain the top position. Shortly after, Johnson spun in the Carousel to bring out the caution, followed by Wallace turning Kyle Busch on the frontstretch.

The restart took place on lap 65 with Elliott leading Truex. Austin Dillon spun three laps later with no yellow. On lap 75, Ryan Preece exited the race for mechanical problems.

As the laps counted down, Truex continued to chase down Elliott, with the two isolating themselves from the field. However, he could not catch the #9 as Elliott scored his second win of 2019 and fifth of his career. Truex settled for second ahead of Hamlin, Jones, Blaney, Matt DiBenedetto, Kevin Harvick, Larson, Keselowski, and Kurt Busch.

Elliott is the first driver to win back-to-back Cup races at The Glen since Marcos Ambrose in 2011 and 2012. Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin have also accomplished the feat.

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