Sound the Sirens: Chase Elliott Scores his First Win of 2022 with Victory at Rain-Delayed Dover

DOVER, DELAWARE - MAY 02: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne at Dover Motor Speedway on May 02, 2022 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott can finally breath a sigh of relief. After watching his Hendrick Motorsports teams celebrate wins this season (one of them twice), it was Elliott who was finally able to celebrate after winning the rain delayed NASCAR Cup series Drydene 400 at Dover Motor Speedway Monday.

After leading 19 laps in Stage 1, Elliott took the lead for the final time with 53 laps to go, snaked his way through lap down cars and cruised to his first win of 2022, his second at the one-mile concrete oval known as the ‘Monster’ and the 14th win of his career.

“Had some good circumstances finally,” Elliott said. “Really appreciate Alan (crew chief Alan Gustafson) and our entire team for just sticking with it. We’ve had some tough races over the last, I don’t know, four, five months.”

The win came under caution after a last lap incident between Ross Chastain and Martin Truex Jr. who were racing for third. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came home second ahead of that battle.

Heading into Turn 3 on the final lap, Truex tried to pass Chastin on the outside. Chastain moved up to block sending Truex spinning down into the backstretch wall. Chastain held on for third, Truex was credited with 12th.

Truex and Chastain had a short, and seemingly civil, discussion after the race.

“We were talking about where we were going to go fishing next week,” Chastain joked when asked what the conversation was about. “No, super proud of this effort. I thought we were a fifth-place car. A couple guys had misfortune with the cautions coming out. That cycled us to the lead.”

Christopher Bell overcame a loose wheel just after the end of Stage 1 forcing him to pit under green; he rejoined the field in 32nd, two laps down but rallied to finish fourth.

“Very, very frustrating to have those issues and get put behind,” Bell said. “I feel like if we could have stayed up front we could have possibly contended for the win. We were able to get back up there in that third stage, and I’ll take it. I’m really proud of this 20 group.”

Fifth place finisher Alex Bowman was one of the fastest cars in the middle portion of the race, but lost places due to an ill-timed caution on lap 322. Pitting with then race leader Kyle Busch under green, a loose wheel off the car of AJ Allmendinger who had just pitted, forced NASCAR to throw the yellow. Busch restarted 16th, Bowman 17thon the restart that came with 70 laps to go.

Busch, celebrating his birthday had won two races on his birthday in the past, in 2009 and 2021, and looked to be in a good position to go three for three leading the most laps on the day, 103. But he too was victim of the ill-timed caution and had to settle for seventh just behind sixth place Kyle Larson, who himself overcame a solo spin on lap 157.

Chris Buescher, coming off his first career Cup pole was eighth. Kevin Harvick, and Erik Jones rounded out the top 10.

Denny Hamlin who led 67 laps and won Stage 1, had a wheel come off exiting the pits and fell deep in the field. He fought his way back however and was running fourth when Cody Ware spun on the frontstretch on lap 241 and slid down into Hamlin. With a damaged Toyota Hamlin finished 21st one lap down.

Ryan Blaney won Stage 2, but the pit strategy to secure that win left him deep in the field. He finished 26th three laps down.

The win was the first on an oval for Elliott since his championship winning race victory at Phoenix in November of 2020. The first 78 laps of the race had been run on Sunday when rain forced the postponement of the race until Monday.

“This one means a lot in a lot of different ways,” Elliott said standing at the start-finish line. “Just appreciate all the effort. But thanks to all the fans for coming out. You’re always awesome. Hope to see this big crowd here next year. Just a huge thanks to everybody involved. It’s been a fun day and we’re certainly going to enjoy.

“Like I told them after the race, those guys, they’ve been deserving of one for a while. Glad we could get across the line first. We’ll enjoy it for a few days and go to work next week.”

The NASCAR Cup series heads to Darlington Raceway for the throwback weekend and the Goodyear 400 next Sunday.

Photos: NASCAR at Dover Motor Speedway, Monday May 2, 2022

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne
Dover Motor Speedway
Dover, Delaware
Monday, May 2, 2022

1. (4) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 400.
2. (15) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 400.
3. (7) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 400.
4. (17) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 400.
5. (6) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 400.
6. (3) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400.
7. (10) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400.
8. (1) Chris Buescher, Ford, 400.
9. (11) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 400.
10. (25) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 400.
11. (14) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 400.
12. (18) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 400.
13. (23) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 400.
14. (8) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 400.
15. (30) Cole Custer, Ford, 400.
16. (9) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 399.
17. (29) Michael McDowell, Ford, 399.
18. (21) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 399.
19. (27) Aric Almirola, Ford, 399.
20. (20) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 399.
21. (2) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 399.
22. (33) William Byron, Chevrolet, 399.
23. (24) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 398.
24. (35) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 398.
25. (13) Ryan Preece(i), Ford, 398.
26. (5) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 397.
27. (31) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 396.
28. (34) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 396.
29. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 396.
30. (26) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 390.
31. (16) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 388.
32. (36) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 381.
33. (19) AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, Brakes, 321.
34. (28) Cody Ware, Ford, DVP, 238.
35. (32) BJ McLeod, Ford, Brakes, 167.
36. (12) Austin Cindric #, Ford, DVP, 91.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 104.507 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 49 Mins, 39 Secs. Margin of Victory: Under Caution
Caution Flags: 13 for 75 laps.
Lead Changes: 17 among 10 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Buescher 1-18;D. Hamlin 19-73;K. Larson 74-92;C. Elliott 93-111;D. Hamlin 112-123;R. Chastain 124-159;M. Truex Jr. 160;R. Chastain 161-190;J. Haley 191-209;A. Bowman 210-211;K. Busch 212-244;R. Blaney 245-252;K. Busch 253-322;M. Truex Jr. 323-326;R. Chastain 327-340;C. Elliott 341;R. Chastain 342-347;C. Elliott 348-400.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kyle Busch 2 times for 103 laps; Ross Chastain 4 times for 86 laps; Chase Elliott 3 times for 73 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 67 laps; Justin Haley 1 time for 19 laps; Kyle Larson 1 time for 19 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 18 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 8 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 2 times for 5 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,9,20,1,19,5,24,17,18,6
Stage #2 Top Ten: 12,18,48,19,47,1,43,21,17,9

Greg Engle