Elliott Wins First Cup Race

Winner Chase Elliott gives victory salute. [Joe Jennings Photo]

Winner Chase Elliott gives victory salute. [Joe Jennings Photo]

By Joe Jennings

WATKINS GLEN, N. Y. – It took second-generation driver Chase Elliott 99 races to win his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event and that triumph finally came on the road course at Watkins Glen International in the Go Bowling at The Glen.

Driving the SunEnergy 1 Chevrolet owned by Hendrick Motorsports, the win gave the legendary team its 250th Cup triumph and its first victory in 2018, and the manufacturer its second trip to victory lane this year.

To make it even more thrilling, Bill Elliott, his Hall of Fame father, served as one of the team’s three spotters and he got to victory lane before his son did. Interestingly, Bill Elliott won his first Cup race on the road course at Riverside Raceway in 1983. Also, the senior Elliott copped his only Xfinity Series win at The Glen.

“What a day! This is a relief,” Elliott said. “I felt good going into the last lap until I wheel-hopped going into Turn 1, so I through it out of gear so not to spin out. We’ve had some hard days, and these guys were winners until Jeff (Gordon) left. They said they never doubted me, and I’m glad I was able to give them something back.”

Said his proud father, “This victory is beyond words. I can’t describe it. I knew he could do it.

Starting third Elliott was in contention from the outset and took the lead for the first of two times on lap 27. The initial pass thrilled the capacity crowd, which cheered loudly. Each pass was over Kyle Busch, who led 31 laps.

Busch hounded Elliott until an errant pit stop on lap 57 dropped him to 24th for a short while. But Busch didn’t surrender and he vaulted through the field, to finish third.

In the last segment, 2017 victor Martin Truex Jr. chased down Elliott and ran on his bumper several times before running short of fuel on the final lap. At the same time, Elliott got himself into a wheel-hopping situation going into Turn 1, but he regained control.

Fuel became an issue for Elliott and he estimated he had less than a gallon left upon taking the checkered flag. And he burned up the leftover fuel doing burnouts and was pushed to the pit area by teammate Jimmie Johnson.

Truex and Busch finished second and third.

Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones took fourth and fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray, William Byron, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick.

Four caution flags slowed the race for 11 laps.

Share Button