King of the Road: Chase Elliott wins at Road America

Chase Elliott’s weekend for the NASCAR Cup series’ return to Road America didn’t exactly begin well. He couldn’t find speed during Saturday’s practice session later admitting that he couldn’t find his rhythm.

Then on Sunday morning an ill-timed try in qualifying that was halted early due to a car on stopped on track left Elliott with a 34th place starting spot.

By the time the checkered flag dropped at the end of 62 laps later that afternoon however, Elliott showed why he is NASCAR’s current king on the road course as he led a race high 24 laps including the final 17 to score his second victory of the season on NASCAR’s return to Wisconsin for the first time since 1965. Elliott has now won three of the last five road course races on the schedule.

“I never felt like I got in a real good rhythm all of yesterday,” Elliott said. “For whatever reason there, after about halfway through the race, I started finding some of that rhythm, was able to put it together, piece different parts of the track. Finally, I felt like I was able to piece most of it together.

“Stayed with it and glad it worked out.”

After starting 34th, Elliott was 16th by lap 6 and was 10th when the races second caution came out on lap 11 and ended the first stage under yellow, a stage won by Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron.

Elliott took the lead for the first time on lap 38 with 25 to go and again for the final time after a restart on lap 45 after the races fourth and final caution for Anthony Alfredo who stopped on track.

After grabbing the lead from Kyle Busch, Elliott was able to stretch out his lead winning by 5.7 seconds for his second win of 2021; his first win this season came on the road course at COTA.

Christopher Bell was able to grab second with 4 to go overcoming a pit road penalty. The winner on the Daytona Road Course early in the season scored his first top five finish since April.

“Here the last couple weeks, I’ve been really proud of the progress we’ve made,” Bell said. “I’m just proud to drive for everybody on this 20 group at Joe Gibbs Racing. Excited for the future. I know there’s more to come. Like I said, there’s no reason why we can’t run up front every week.”

Kyle Busch held on for third; a good result that required a Herculean effort after starting at the back of the field in a back-up car following damaged sustained to his primary car in Saturday’s practice session.

“We just did not have the tire life the 9 (Chase Elliott) did,” Busch said. “That was incredible. He was able to drive away from us. His braking was really good, but his drive off was awesome. They beat us by far today.”

Kurt Busch, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

With his win Elliott now has 7 road course wins in his career and moves to third on the all-time road course win list behind Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and tied with Bobby Allison.

“Man, it was a hot day. But a lot of fun, man,” Elliott said. “Just really proud of our team for overcoming some adversity early and having to start in the back, having good pit stops. Had a really fast NAPA Chevrolet. Just so proud. We’ve had a rough few weeks, so it feels really good.”

Chase Briscoe tied his career best Cup finish with a sixth place. Ross Chastain was seventh; Tyler Reddick who won Stage 2, eighth with Martin Truex Jr. who overcame a pit road penalty was ninth; Matt DiBenedetto who led 10 laps was 10th.

Byron won the pole and led the second most laps on the day, 15 all in the first 15 and won Stage 1, but faded late, spun in the closing laps and finished 33rd.

Kyle Larson was running in the top five in the closing laps but was spun by his teammate Alex Bowman in turn 5 with six laps to go. Larson finished 16th. Bowman who apologized to his team and Larson said his Chevy was out of brakes. He had a tire rub after getting hit by Hamlin and was forced to pit with 4 laps to go and finished 22nd.

NASCAR heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second visit of the season next Sunday. It will mark the second race of the season for the speedway since 2010.

ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN – JULY 04: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Jockey Made in America 250 Presented by Kwik Trip at Road America on July 04, 2021 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Jockey Made in America 250 Presented by Kwik Trip

Road America

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Sunday, July 4, 2021

  1. (34)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 62.
  2. (13)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 62.
  3. (40)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 62.
  4. (16)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 62.
  5. (6)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 62.
  6. (35)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 62.
  7. (8)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 62.
  8. (4)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 62.
  9. (9)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 62.
  10. (7)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 62.
  11. (37)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 62.
  12. (38)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 62.
  13. (20)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 62.
  14. (19)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 62.
  15. (14)  Joey Logano, Ford, 62.
  16. (2)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 62.
  17. (15)  Cole Custer, Ford, 62.
  18. (12)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 62.
  19. (21)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 62.
  20. (17)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 62.
  21. (23)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 62.
  22. (10)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 62.
  23. (27)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 62.
  24. (36)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 62.
  25. (22)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 62.
  26. (39)  Ty Dillon(i), Toyota, 62.
  27. (25)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 62.
  28. (26)  James Davison, Chevrolet, 62.
  29. (3)  AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 62.
  30. (18)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 62.
  31. (29)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 62.
  32. (28)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 62.
  33. (1)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 62.
  34. (33)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 62.
  35. (30)  Kyle Tilley, Ford, 60.
  36. (11)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 53.
  37. (24)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, Brakes, 42.
  38. (5)  Austin Cindric(i), Ford, Rear Gear, 35.
  39. (31)  Ryan Eversley, Ford, Rear Gear, 27.
  40. (32)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, Engine, 6.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  86.271 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 54 Mins, 33 Secs. Margin of Victory:  5.705 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 9 laps.

Lead Changes:  10 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   W. Byron 1-15;M. Truex Jr. 16;*. Cindric(i) 17-18;M. DiBenedetto 19-23;K. Busch 24-26;T. Reddick 27-31;K. Busch 32;M. DiBenedetto 33-37;C. Elliott 38-44;A. Almirola 45;C. Elliott 46-62.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Chase Elliott 2 times for 24 laps; William Byron 1 time for 15 laps; Matt DiBenedetto 2 times for 10 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 5 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 4 laps; * Austin Cindric(i) 1 time for 2 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 1 lap; Aric Almirola 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 24,16,5,8,42,11,20,48,1,9

Stage #2 Top Ten: 8,24,42,5,1,22,4,23,77,18