The green flag flew with 32 laps to go in Sunday’s Go Bowling at ‘the Glen’ at Watkins Glen International. The No. 9 and No. 3 cars of Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon lead the field back to green on what would be the final restart of the afternoon. The two numbers represent and have been there for so much Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) history between Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Bill Elliott. On Sunday, a new face in Chase Elliott, was introduced to victory lane in the familiar No. 9.
Chase Elliott Earns First NASCAR Cup Victory At Watkins Glen
After the green flag flew on the final restart, Dillon dropped back in the field immediately. Elliott, followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch, would jump out to a huge lead, separating the three from the field in the first two laps of the late-race run.
A lap later, Truex Jr. got around Busch and looked to close on Elliott. Elliott had a two-second lead on Truex Jr., who was looking for his fifth win of the MENCS season. 15 laps went by. Matt Kenseth spun – no caution. Truex Jr. had gained a second on Elliott. Another five laps go by. Ross Chastain blew a tire. Jimmie Johnson went into the wall… no caution.
Chase Elliott Clinches Win
With eight laps to go, Truex Jr. got right to Elliott’s back bumper, but couldn’t make anything happen. Elliott was too strong through the esses and the bus stop. On the final lap, Elliott locked the brakes up and went wide around the corner. Truex Jr. nearly passed Elliott, who was trying to avenge his eight runner-up finishes, on turn one.
On the other side of the track, however, the No. 78 slowed. Truex Jr. had run out of gas, giving Elliott his first MENCS career victory. The win is the first for Hendrick Motorsports and just the second for Chevrolet as a manufacturer this season. Both have struggled with the new Camaro body, but on Sunday the struggles were no more.
After the race, Elliott ran out of gas right before his attempt at doing a burnout. Naturally, seven-time MENCS champion Jimmie Johnson came to the aid of Elliott, pushing him to the start-finish line to celebrate his first win.
In what was a day of old and new nostalgia, Elliott permanently put himself in the NASCAR playoffs and will look for another run to Homestead. As for the rest of the series, there are only four races left until the playoffs begin, and things are heating up. Alex Bowman is currently the last driver in the playoffs and sits nearly a full race, 62 points, in front of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The MENCS returns to the track next Sunday when it takes to Michigan International Speedway. The race will start at 2:30 p.m. ET and be televised by NBCSN.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Grid:
Through 22 of 26 regular season races
1. Kyle Busch (6 wins, 35 playoff points)
2. Kevin Harvick (6 wins, 33)
3. Martin Truex Jr. (4 wins, 27)
4. Clint Bowyer (2 wins, 10)
5. Chase Elliott (1 win, 8)
6. Joey Logano (1 win, 7)
7. Austin Dillon (1 win, 5)
8. Erik Jones (1 win, 5)
9. Kurt Busch +244
10. Brad Keselowski +209
11. Kyle Larson +199
12. Denny Hamlin +189
13. Ryan Blaney +178
14. Aric Almirola +141
15. Jimmie Johnson +102
16. Alex Bowman +62
17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -62
18. Paul Menard -72
19. Ryan Newman -89
20. Daniel Suarez -92
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