Elliott Becomes A NASCAR Cup Champion

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, November 9 2020

Chase Elliott and all his new hardware. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

When Chase Elliott got out of his car after winning the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, he seemed to be something that he had been inside the car – dazed and confused.

The words just wouldn’t come for the 24-year-old Elliott.

“This is unbelievable,” he said, trying to catch his breath. “Oh my gosh. We did it. We did it. It’s all I got tell you. Unreal.

“Last week was a huge win,” he said of his must-win victory at the Martinsville, Va. short track. “A shot to come here and have a shot to race. It’s unbelievable. Heck, I don’t know, I don’t even know. This is unreal.

“We peaked at the right time. And that’s all you can ask for.”

“I mean, NASCAR Cup Series champion. You kidding me? Unreal.”

The championship comes in the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s fifth full season as a full-time driver in Cup.

And it comes as the result of an incredible drive which saw him having to drive up through the field after he was penalized when his car twice failed pre-race inspection.

The victory was his second straight, the 11th of his career and the fifth of the season.

The championship ties him with his father in that category as Bill Elliott won the 1988 title. It comes in just his first time in the Championship 4 round of the Playoffs.

He wound up leading a race-best 154 laps and beat runner-up Brad Keselowski of Team Penske to the finish line by 2.7 seconds.

Elliott said, yes, the pass on Logano for the lead was huge.

“I saw Joey was pretty loose there and I felt that I needed to get to him while I could,” he said. “I knew I had been kind of tight on the longer runs and I knew he was probably doing to get a little better.”

Logano agreed.

“Just didn’t have enough speed at the right time,” Logano, who lead 125 laps, said. “Nothing really went wrong. Our pit crew was on it. Our strategy got us out front there at the end. Just the 9 (Elliott) seemed like he lit off pretty good there and the last run he was able to go really fast. We got another vibration there toward the end of the run. We were close

“It stings not winning. I’m not going to lie, it hurts. At the same time, we’re stronger because we went through it.”

Keselowski was feeling the sting, as well.

“I would have loved to have one of those late-race yellows like we saw in the Trucks race and Xfinity race,” Keselowski said. “We were pretty good there but just didn’t have the track position” to catch and pass the winner.

“Solid day. Wish we had one more spot.”

Behind Elliott and Keselowski at the finish were the two other Championship 4 drivers — Logano of Team Penske and Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing, in that order.

“Our overall car speed, we just didn’t have enough,” Hamlin, a three-time Daytona 500 winner and 44-race winning in Cup but who is still looking for his first championship. “We just, as an organization, have to get a little bit better. Especially on the short tracks.

“It was all I had. I was pushing for everything I had. Just didn’t have quite enough today. We ended up fourth.”

Still, Hamlin said he was not ready to hang his head. “Nobody’s won more than we have the last two years. Daytona 500 two years in a row. Final four two years in a row. Pretty proud what this team’s doing.”

Logano and Keselowski were going for their second championships while Hamlin was attempting to win his first.

Elliott, who was to start on the pole, made overcoming the drive from the back of the pack look easy. He moved quickly forward and on Lap 27, he moved into the top 10.

Two star drivers were taking their final rides as full-time Cup drivers: seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and fan favorite Clint Bowyer.

Johnson finished fifth while Bowyer was 14th.


NASCAR Cup Series Race – 33rd Annual Season Finale 500

Phoenix Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Sunday, November 8, 2020

  1. (1)  Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 312.
  2. (3)  Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 312.
  3. (2)  Joey Logano (P), Ford, 312.
  4. (4)  Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 312.
  5. (26)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 312.
  6. (5)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 312.
  7. (11)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 312.
  8. (12)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 312.
  9. (25)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 312.
  10. (13)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 312.
  11. (8)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 312.
  12. (7)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 312.
  13. (10)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 311.
  14. (9)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 311.
  15. (23)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 311.
  16. (6)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 311.
  17. (17)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 311.
  18. (18)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 311.
  19. (21)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 311.
  20. (31)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 311.
  21. (22)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 311.
  22. (14)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 311.
  23. (29)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 311.
  24. (19)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 311.
  25. (16)  Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, 311.
  26. (27)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 311.
  27. (20)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 310.
  28. (15)  Cole Custer #, Ford, 310.
  29. (35)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 309.
  30. (32)  JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 306.
  31. (30)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 306.
  32. (37)  Joey Gase(i), Ford, 302.
  33. (36)  James Davison, Ford, 302.
  34. (24)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 299.
  35. (38)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 296.
  36. (33)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 288.
  37. (39)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, Rear End, 261.
  38. (28)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, Suspension, 215.
  39. (34)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, Handling, 149.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  112.096 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 47 Mins, 0 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.740 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 27 laps.

Lead Changes:  19 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Elliott (P) 0;J. Logano (P) 1-32;R. Blaney 33;J. Logano (P) 34-78;C. Elliott (P) 79;J. Logano (P) 80-119;C. Elliott (P) 120-138;J. Johnson 139-142;M. DiBenedetto 143;A. Almirola 144-150;C. Elliott (P) 151-163;K. Busch 164-167;C. Elliott (P) 168-172;B. Keselowski (P) 173-182;C. Elliott (P) 183-189;B. Keselowski (P) 190-195;C. Elliott (P) 196-260;R. Stenhouse Jr. 261;J. Logano (P) 262-269;C. Elliott (P) 270-312.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Chase Elliott (P) 7 times for 153 laps; Joey Logano (P) 4 times for 125 laps; Brad Keselowski (P) 2 times for 16 laps; Aric Almirola 1 time for 7 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 4 laps; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 4 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 1 lap; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 1 lap; Matt DiBenedetto 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,11,9,2,12,18,88,14,1,21

Stage #2 Top Ten: 2,9,22,11,12,48,1,18,21,24


| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, November 9 2020
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