Elliott, Chevy Crank Out A Big Victory At Talladega

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 28 2019
Chase Elliott and Chevrolet had a big day at Talladega on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Team orders have always been controversial in auto racing. On Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, they resulted in a victory.

The team orders at Talladega came not from a team owner and they did not concern just one team or driver. They came from Chevrolet as the folks at the Bow Tie Brigade held a meeting with all the team and drivers under their umbrella and the word was: work together.

And work together they did and the result was Hendrick Motorsports and Chase Elliott getting the win in the NASCAR Cup Series 500-miler at The ‘dega.

The victory for Elliott — the fourth of his Cup Series career — gave Chevrolet its first victory of the season and its first at NASCAR’s biggest track since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won in 2015.

“That was one of the coolest things ever,” Elliott, son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, said. “This crowd was absolutely insane.” 

Alex Bowman, Ryan Preece and Daniel Hemric gave fans of the “Bow Tie Brigade” more reasons to smile as they drove their Camaros to second-, third- and fourth-place finishes respectively and thus validate pre-race orders by Chevy officials to race as one big team.

“It was huge,” Elliott said in his on-track, televised interview of Chevy’s decision to basically instruct their drivers to work together. “We just had a plan and executed it well. Fortunately, everybody stayed together and stayed the course.”

“Big props to Chevrolet and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports,” Bowman, Elliott’s teammate, said. “We all stuck to our plans and executed really well.”

The top non-Chevy was the Ford of Joey Logano, which finished fifth for a Team Penske that had won two of the three previous races — and five of the last six — at Talladega.

Sunday’s race was the first in 32 years run at Talladega in which restrictor plates were not bolted onto the cars’ intake manifolds. Instead, NASCAR opted to run this year’s races there using tapered spacers on the engines. The result was an increase of about 100 horsepower.

Sunday’s race also featured new body rules for 2019.

Ty Dillon collected the Stage 1 win while Elliott won Stage 2.

The race was running sans big wrecks until there were just seven laps to go. With the field setting up behind leader Logano for the finish, Aric Almirola, who won the fall race at Talladega last year, bumped Chris Buescher from behind. That sent Buescher spinning up into the wall before he was rammed from behind by Matt DiBenedetto The wreck brought out a red flag.

A wreck farther back in the field involving Kyle Larson (whose car barrel-rolled multiple times), William Byron and Jeffrey Earnhardt on the final lap brought out the caution and froze the field with Elliott in the lead for the final result.

“Probably longest flip I ever had. I didn’t know if would ever stop,” Chip Ganassi Racing’s Larson said. “Little bit scary.”

The last lap wreck may have robbed fans of a classic Hendrick vs. Hendrick finish.

Bowman said had the wreck not occurred, he was going to challenge his teammate for the win. “I wasn’t going to just let him win. I was pretty confident I could get to his quarter panel through the tri-oval and who knows who going to get to the line first at that point. Would have been fun to try.”

Elliott said, “That last lap was going to get wild. I don’t know exactly what Alex had up his sleeve. I know he was coming with something.”

Tough times for Stewart-Haas Racing continued when both Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer were involved in a wreck just 11 laps into the 188-lapper. Harvick’s car was knocked out of the race and Bowyer’s was rendered non-competitive and finished six laps off the pace. Both drivers started the race in the top 10 in points but neither has yet to win in 2019.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 28 2019
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