After a hiatus almost three times as old as Chase Elliott himself, the Dawsonville, GA native dominated and led 24 of the final 25 laps en route to winning the first NASCAR Cup Series race at Road America since 1956.
This win marks Elliott’s 13th of his career, the seventh of which has come on road courses. Only Jeff Gordon (nine) and Tony Stewart (eight) have scored more road course victories in their careers.
The day started poorly for the defending Cup Series champion when he was unable to complete a qualifying lap due to multiple cautions in the 25-minute session. As a lap around the course is just over 4-miles long and the session clock does not pause during caution periods, that left Elliott and several other drivers failing to post a true qualifying time. Elliott was then mired back in the 34th starting spot.
Elliott worked his way through the field took the lead away from Matt DiBenedetto, who led for the first time in his career on a road course, leading 10 laps in total. It was early in the final stage when the lead change occurred and Elliott was clearly the best car for the rest of the duration.
Christopher Bell restarted 7th in the final restart and slowly picked off all the drivers ahead of him, except the winning #9 Chevrolet. The runner-up finish marked Bell’s best finish since winning the first road course race of 2021 at Daytona, and only his 3rd Top-5 finish this season.
Kyle Busch, the winner of Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Road America, finished 3rd. He was directly behind Chase Elliott battling for the lead with close to 15 laps to go, but couldn’t keep up with the #9’s pace as Elliott slowly pulled away to a several second lead.
In the first race since the news that Chip Ganassi Racing had sold his NASCAR team to TrackHouse Racing, effective at the end of 2021, Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain finished 4th and 7th, respectively, continuing to push forward through the playoff bubble. Kurt Busch was already a free agent going into this upcoming offseason, but now Chastain’s ride is in question, making race finishes like Road America all more important.
Denny Hamlin finished 5th and increased his regular season point lead by one, holding a three point lead total over Kyle Larson. He had some help with maintaining that gap, however, as Larson’s teammate Alex Bowman ran into the rear of the #5 going into Turn 5 and spun the point lead challenger around, relegating Larson to a 16th place finish. Bowman himself had to pit following the incident and finished 22nd.
With Larson and Bowman finishing outside the Top-15, it appears Chase Elliott was the only Hendrick Motorsports driver that ended with a good day. Polesitter William Byron came home 33rd.
The NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Chase Elliott’s hometrack Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 11th. It’ll be aired at 3:30p ET on NBCSN. Ryan Blaney won the March race at Atlanta earlier this year, his only victory so far in 2021.