WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Sunday afternoon, Watkins Glen International belonged to Chase Elliott.
At the site of his first career NASCAR Cup Series win, Elliott won Stages 1 and 2 and led 80 of the 90 laps en route to Victory Lane.
It marked his fifth career win, his second of the 2019 season and his second consecutive at Watkins Glen.
“I've never been so far from home and felt like I was at my house,” Elliott smiled, addressing the crowd. “So, thank you, y'all are awesome."
Elliott began the race on the pole, marking the first time in his career he has both started and finished in the top spot. The 80 laps led were the second-most ever led in a race at Watkins Glen.
"What a day,” he said after capturing the checkered flag. “Such a fast NAPA Camaro, and these guys called a great race. Just stayed mistake-free."
Alex Bowman was the next Hendrick Motorsports driver to cross the finish line in 14th. Jimmie Johnson joined him inside the top 20 with a 19th-place finish and is now tied for the final spot in the 16-driver Cup Series playoffs.
William Byron took the checkered flag in 21st.
Elliott's win was Hendrick Motorsports' eighth at Watkins Glen, which set a new record for the most all-time at the track. It marked the organization's 255th Cup Series win.
For a photo gallery of the celebration in Victory Lane, click here.
Below is a closer look at how Sunday’s race unfolded for the four Hendrick Motorsports teammates.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The defending Watkins Glen race winner, Elliott started Sunday’s race from the pole position. He held the lead at the drop of the green flag and continued to build a lead on the rest of the field throughout the opening segment. He took the green-checkered flag as the winner of Stage 1. The result earned him 10 extra points and a playoff point.
- Following a trip to pit road, Elliott began Stage 2 in fifth as four competitors did not pit between segments. By Lap 27, however, he had moved all the way up to the runner-up position and he retook the lead a few laps later. He stayed on the track during a caution with eight laps remaining in the segment and maintained the lead on the ensuing restart. He won Stage 2 as well when it ended under caution, picking up 10 more points and another playoff point.
- Elliott held the race lead through the start of the final segment, and he continued to do so as he battled to stay ahead of a hard-charging Martin Truex Jr. in second place. At the end of Lap 59, Elliott headed to pit road from the top spot, and quick work by the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team allowed him to stay out in front of Truex after he pitted one lap later.
- Following a caution, Elliott restarted as the leader with 25 laps to go in a tight battle that included some banging back and forth with Truex and the No. 19 car, but the No. 9 ultimately remained out front and looked to build on his lead ahead of the rest of the field. Down the stretch, Truex continued to challenge to close the gap all the way through the final lap, but Elliott was able to hold off the charge to capture the checkered flag as the Watkins Glen winner for the second consecutive season.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 HENDRICK AUTOGUARD CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Byron took the green flag Sunday afternoon on the outside pole and he held the runner-up spot until the 10th lap on the race, when he fell to third. He maintained a top-five position throughout the opening segment, finishing Stage 1 in fifth after Kyle Busch made contact with the No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and sent it through the grass. He gained six extra points for the stage finish.
- During the stage break, Byron made contact with the rear of the No. 18 car before heading to pit road for damage repair. He ultimately began Stage 2 in 32nd. He climbed to 28th when a caution flag waved with eight laps to go, and made a pit stop for repairs before pit road was open. That put him in 35th for the restart, and he was running 34th when Stage 2 ended under caution.
- Byron began the final segment in 32nd but quickly climbed to the precipice of the top 20 before green-flag pit stops began. He remained on the track to climb all the way to sixth before heading to pit road himself for a fuel-only stop. Thanks to the strategy call, Byron lined up 11th for a restart with 25 laps to go. As the laps wound down, Byron fell outside of the top 20 and took the checkered flag in 21st.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Rolling off the grid inside the top 10, it took Johnson just three laps to advance all the way up to fourth. He fell just outside of the top five before the end of Stage 1, taking the green-checkered flag in sixth to pick up five extra points.
- Due to four competitors staying off pit road between segments, Johnson began Stage 2 in 11th after a trip to pit road. When a caution flag flew with eight laps remaining in the second segment, Johnson was back inside the top 10 and stayed on the track during the caution. He held the 10th position on the restart and was scored in that position when a caution flag with two laps to go in the segment ended Stage 2. Johnson gained a point for the finish.
- The No. 48 team elected to make a four-tire pit stop between stages, putting Johnson in 28th to start the final segment. He climbed inside the top 20 before heading to pit road for a fuel-only stop at the end of Lap 58. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion looked to capitalize on the strategy call before a competitor made contact and caused him to spin into the tire barrier. After a trip to pit road, he restarted back in 27th with 25 laps to go.
- Johnson steadily climbed through the field for the remainder of the race, breaking into the top 20 and ultimately taking the checkered flag in 19th.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 AXALTA/CARSTAR CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Starting Sunday’s road-course race in 17th, Bowman briefly dropped to 20th before climbing back up to 17th midway through the opening segment. With three laps to go in Stage 1, Bowman headed to pit road, ultimately sending him to a 31st-place stage finish.
- Staying off of pit road between segments, Bowman began Stage 2 in fourth. He maintained a top-five position through the first half of the stage, running fifth when a caution flag waved with eight laps remaining. He remained on the track and ultimately finished Stage 2 in seventh under caution. He picked up four extra points for the result.
- He remained in seventh at the start of the final segment and held onto a top-10 position before making a green-flag pit stop on Lap 58. When the field cycled through, Bowman lined up 15th following a caution for a restart with 25 laps remaining. He maintained that top-15 position down the stretch, crossing the finish line in 14th.