Like father, like son. Chase Elliott was able to stay ahead of a hard charging Kyle Busch Wednesday night to win NASCAR’s All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The win netted the Hendrick Motorsports driver a $1 million payday to cap off a day filled with firsts. It was the first midweek All-Star Race, the first with a choose rule used to determine the running order for restarts, and it was the first time underglow lighting was used on the 16 locked-in cars for the main event. The race was also the first time since March that fans were widely welcomed into the stands. Crowds were estimated to be just over 20,000. Around 1000 had been allowed at Homestead last month and 5,000 at Talladega.
“I can’t believe it,” Elliott said at the start-finish line as fans cheered. “What a better night to have fans back than tonight – y’all are awesome. There’s nothing like Bristol. There’s nothing like the lights here. There’s nothing like racing here. I’ve never won here – what a race to do it.”
Wednesday also marked the first time the All-Star Race had been run at a track other than Charlotte Motor Speedway since the only other time it ran on another track, Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986. That race, then known as The Winston, was won by Bill Elliott a NASCAR Hall of Famer and Chase’s father. Wednesday was the first All-Star win of Chase’s career.
“Bristol is an electric atmosphere that is unlike any other that we go to,” Elliott said. “Couldn’t be more excited. We’re going to celebrate this one for sure. And we’ll take that million dollars back to Georgia, why don’t we!”
Busch made a valiant effort to fight his way forward but had to settle for second place, just .418 seconds behind at the checkered flag. Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin completed the top-five finishers in order.
“I just had to try something different than what we were doing,” Busch said. “Even if I got to him, I wasn’t going to be able to pass him because the air following guys just wouldn’t let me get close enough all night. Me anyways. Overall, I don’t know. Still felt like I had to drive 110 percent to even make that finish happen. Still kind of slow, just missing something.”
Elliott led 60 of the 140 laps in the non-points event, which was divided into four stages. Ryan Blaney, who won Stage 1 and was the only other stage winner was sixth. Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top 10.
Prior to the main event, Matt DiBenedetto checked out in the final stage to win the NASCAR All-Star Open, joining stage winners Aric Almirola and William Byron in clinching starting spots. Clint Bowyer won the fan vote. With his ninth-place finish, Almirola was the highest finisher among those who advanced. Byron was 12th, DiBenedetto 13th, and Bowyer 14th.
The biggest drama of the night came early in the Open when pole-sitter Michael McDowell and Bubba Wallace made contact that spun Wallace’s car and ended Wallace’s day in last place after heavy damage to the No. 43 Chevrolet.
The NASCAR Cup Series’ next event is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, scheduled Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.