CONCORD, N.C. -- Chase Elliott is locked into the All-Star Race for life after he won the event Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE took home his first all-star victory after he won the second and third stages, then dominated the final stage to take secure the checkered flag. For Elliott, winning the race meant so much.
"To me, this is one of those prestigious events that the Cup Series only has, right? This is a special race on the schedule every year," he said. "There's a lot of hype around it. The other thing about it is it's something you have to race your way into. Luckily, we raced our way into this deal for life now. That means a lot."
Elliott rolled of the grid in 13th and cut through the field in the first stage, ending that segment in third. He dominated for the rest of the race and didn't relinquish the lead once in the final 15-lap stage.
"You're racing against the very best over recent times and anybody's career that have locked themselves into this event," Elliott explained. "To beat the best, I think, is always special."
It was an extremely strong performance after Elliott said he had been struggling over the past few races. He said he had to adjust his mindset, which isn't always easy.
"I feel like I needed to hit the reset button, not overthink things, do what I feel is right," he said. "That's a hard thing to do all the time. You try to get better, you try to learn. A lot of times you can take yourself down a road, this or that, that may not necessarily be benefiting you."
To make Elliott's win more special, fans were allowed at Bristol Motor Speedway to watch the race live. While there have been small crowds here and there since racing resumed in May, the Bristol crowd was the largest allowed since the two-month hiatus ended.
"I feel like we've been missing that piece for a couple months. It just felt really good to get NASCAR back," Elliott said. "NASCAR is built on the fans. Once the race starts, it's hard to engage with them because you can't hear them. Before the race, the atmosphere was energetic again. I felt like the vibe was back."