After a tough couple of weeks, Chase Elliott had everything go his way Thursday night. Elliott snatched the lead from a dominate Kevin Harvick with 27 laps to go to win the NASCAR Cup series Alsco 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Elliott was crashed out while racing for the lead in the second at Darlington last week, then near the end of Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte while leading, Elliott pitted during a caution with two laps left while the rest stayed out and lost.
“It feels awesome. Man, it was a tough week, for sure,” Elliott said in front of an empty grandstand Thursday. “We’ve had some tough losses, but that deal on Sunday night was a heartbreaker. It’s not the Coca-Cola 600, but any win in the Cup Series is really hard to get.
“I just appreciate it. I appreciate my team. Alan (Gustafson) made a great call there at the end to get it tuned up and, luckily, the run went long, and I think that fell in our favor.”
Thursday there were no issues in the final laps and Elliott was able to cruise victory winning by 2.2 seconds over Denny Hamlin.
“I was just waiting for the caution to come out, to be honest with you,” Elliott said. “I thought either the caution was going to come out, I was going to break something, or I was going to crash. Just after the last couple of weeks, I just thought surely it wasn’t going to go green until the end. Just glad it did and glad we’re hopefully back on the right path.”
It was the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s seventh career win and his second at Charlotte after he won the ROVAL last fall.
The race was part of NASCAR’s hectic effort to get the schedule caught up after postponed races due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the fourth race since NASCAR returned and was the shortest non-qualifying Cup race in Charlotte Motor Speedway history.
The race was delayed an entire day by the arrival of tropical storm Bertha which rained out the originally scheduled Wednesday date. Thursday race started on time but a thunderstorm near the track caused a delay for lightning in the area at lap 30. The field was forced under a red flag and not long after rain fell forcing a delay of just over an hour.
The top 20 from Sunday night were inverted giving the top starting spot to William Byron. It was Joey Logano however who stayed out during a competition caution on lap 20 who would lead early on. Logano would win the first stage and Byron would lead only 11 laps on the night. After making contact with Corey LaJoie during those first pit stops, Byron was never able to contend for the win and finished 12th
Alex Bowman took control in the second stage leading 51 laps and winning the stage. Harvick, who had been charging trough the field wrested the lead from Bowman on lap 126. Bowman tried to retake the top spot but got loose and hit the wall on lap 136 and was forced to pit.
Harvick was soon stretching his lead out. But the long green flag run in final quarter of the race was not what Harvick needed and he started to fade late in the going. Elliott was able to rocket his way forward grabbing the lead with 27 to go and never looked back.
“It just falls off after lap 30,” Harvick said. “We knew that’s what we had with our Busch Light Ford and it went straight 60-some laps. They did a really good job turning the car around. It was the total opposite of what we raced last Sunday, so it was a good test session for us. We just didn’t need a long run.”
Behind Hamlin, Ryan Blaney was third, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fourth and Kurt Busch fifth.
Harvick, who led a race high 63 of the 208 laps held on to finish tenth, behind Logano in sixth, Sunday’s winner Brad Keselowski in seventh, Austin Dillon eighth and Martin Truex Jr. ninth.
NASCAR now heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend for a Cup race on Sunday, and a NASCAR Xfinity race, which was to be held on Saturday but moved to Monday due to the rain delay at Charlotte.
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Alsco Uniforms 500
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Concord, North Carolina
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
1. (19) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 208.
2. (29) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 208.
3. (18) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 208.
4. (24) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 208.
5. (14) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 208.
6. (8) Joey Logano, Ford, 208.
7. (20) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 208.
8. (7) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 208.
9. (15) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 208.
10. (16) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 208.
11. (40) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 208.
12. (1) William Byron, Chevrolet, 208.
13. (5) John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 208.
14. (13) Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 208.
15. (4) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 208.
16. (39) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 208.
17. (27) Ryan Newman, Ford, 208.
18. (9) Cole Custer #, Ford, 208.
19. (23) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 208.
20. (6) Aric Almirola, Ford, 208.
21. (12) Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 208.
22. (11) Chris Buescher, Ford, 208.
23. (26) Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, 207.
24. (22) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 207.
25. (3) Michael McDowell, Ford, 207.
26. (10) Erik Jones, Toyota, 207.
27. (25) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 207.
28. (28) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 207.
29. (17) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 207.
30. (31) Gray Gaulding, Ford, 206.
31. (2) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 206.
32. (35) Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, 205.
33. (34) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 205.
34. (21) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 204.
35. (32) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 203.
36. (37) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 200.
37. (38) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, Accident, 165.
38. (30) Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, Accident, 86.
39. (36) Joey Gase(i), Ford, DVP, 8.
40. (33) Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 0.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 125.315 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 29 Mins, 23 Secs. Margin of Victory: 2.208 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 7 for 37 laps.
Lead Changes: 15 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders: W. Byron 0;M. DiBenedetto 1-9;W. Byron 10;M. DiBenedetto 11;W. Byron 12-21;J. Logano 22-23;M. McDowell 24;J. Logano 25-57;R. Blaney 58;J. Logano 59-65;K. Harvick 66-74;A. Bowman 75-125;K. Harvick 126-145;R. Blaney 146;K. Harvick 147-180;C. Elliott 181-208.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kevin Harvick 3 times for 63 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 51 laps; Joey Logano 3 times for 42 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 28 laps; William Byron 2 times for 11 laps; Matt DiBenedetto 2 times for 10 laps; Ryan Blaney 2 times for 2 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,12,21,4,88,47,3,1,9,17
Stage #2 Top Ten: 88,12,22,9,4,1,3,38,95,43