NASCAR Cup Series

Chase Elliott advances to Round of 8 with Talladega win

4 Mins read
Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Once Chase Elliott advanced to the NASCAR Cup Series‘ Round of 12, it seemed like he would be a lock for the Round of 8 due to the presence of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval as the second race in the R12. As it turned out, despite non-playoff drivers sweeping the Round of 16, Elliott could do it at the most unpredictable race on the postseason calendar.

After Daniel Hemric‘s car stalled on the exit of pit road with two laps remaining, Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones comprised the front row for the ensuing green flag. Blaney, restarting on the inside line with fellow Ford driver Michael McDowell pushing, had the early advantage while Jones dropped behind Elliott. Once Elliott caught Blaney on the final lap, the latter found some ground in turns three and four before Elliott received enough of a draft from Jones to power past him in the tri-oval and secure the victory.

“He was able to give me a really good shove,” said Elliott in his post-race press conference. “I didn’t feel like I did anything special. I think just the timing of how he got connected, and the two guys on the bottom were also connected, so they weren’t aggressively side drafting us, trying to pull us apart. He did a really good job. I think he deserves a ton of credit for that. Obviously I’m very thankful he was that committed to me for the last lap and a half.

“I have a lot of respect for Erik. I’ve raced with him long enough to trust him in that situation to not turn me around. We certainly pushed right to the limit. It was a handful, but that’s kind of what you have to do in those scenarios. I thought he balanced that well.”

The win is the eighteenth of Elliott’s career and second at Talladega, where he first won in 2019.

“I saw the #34 (McDowell) come unconnected with the #12 (Blaney) there in turn four,” continued Elliott. “I thought that was my opportunity, so I tried to get down and pull Ryan back as hard as I could, get away, try to get clear. I thought that was my safest place to be.

“When they get side-by-side again, I was a little worried about getting out there too far. When they got side-by-side that brief period of time, I thought that was enough for me to make it. I knew it was probably going to be close. Ryan was going to have such a good run, I didn’t really know how I was going to block it. Tried to waste as much time as I could and hope I got to the line first.”

Until Hemric’s issue, the final stage ran completely caution-free. Conversely, the first segment saw an eight-car crash on lap 25 when Harrison Burton was turned by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in turn one, stacking up the field and collecting Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric, Ty Gibbs, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, and Joey Logano. The accident ruined what was otherwise a unique opportunity for Gragson, who was driving the #48 for Hendrick Motorsports in place of an injured Alex Bowman.

“I know [Stenhouse] hit me and as soon as he did, I was crossed up and going side-to-side,” recalled Burton. “I don’t know what to do different. I pulled up kind of conservatively to give him time to prepare and I’m not sure why. He gave me a pretty hard shot for sure, but I don’t know if it was off line, where he was when he hit me, or if I was moving while he was moving. […] These things happen so fast and all of a sudden you’re sideways. You know you got hit and you don’t understand what really caused it.”

Gibbs, who spun in the Xfinity Series race on Saturday but rebounded with a top ten, was not as fortunate on Sunday as the damage in the crash was terminal.

“I was working with Bubba (Wallace) there and following him,” he said. “I thought we had some good teamwork going there and I let him in. We were trying to get the top rolling. I think the #21 (Burton) just got a bad push and wrecked. There was just nowhere for me to go. It definitely sucks, but it could be a blessing in disguise. We’ll just move on to the Roval and go hammer down there.”

Race results

1169Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
21912Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord188Running
32934Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord188Running
461Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet188Running
5311Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota188Running
61243Erik JonesPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
73438Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord188Running
81499Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet188Running
9172Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord188Running
10514Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord188Running
113377Landon Cassill*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
12924William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
13203Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet188Running
14410Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord188Running
152131Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet188Running
162745Bubba Wallace^23XI RacingToyota188Running
17120Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota188Running
1825Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
19748Noah Gragson*^Hendrick MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
202618Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota188Running
212841Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord188Running
222547Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet188Running
233042Ty DillonPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
24186Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord188Running
252317Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord188Running
262219Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota188Running
271122Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord188Running
2888Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet187Running
29244Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord187Running
303162Justin Allgaier*Beard MotorsportsChevrolet186Running
313615J.J. Yeley*Rick Ware RacingFord184Running
323751Cody WareRick Ware RacingFord184Running
333578B.J. McLeod*Live Fast MotorsportsFord182Running
341316Daniel Hemric*Kaulig RacingChevrolet180Electrical
35327Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet44Accident
361521Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord23Accident
371023Ty Gibbs*23XI RacingToyota23Accident
Bold – Currently in playoffs
^ – Currently in owner playoffs
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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