LOUDON, N.H. – Chase Elliott scored his fourth straight top-two finish in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season with his runner-up finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Elliott overcame early trouble on pit road to take the lead from Kurt Busch for the first time all day on lap 247 of the 301-lap race thanks to his ability to make passes at the 1.058-mile track and strong pit calls from crew chief Alan Gustafson that put him advantageous positions to be on offense. However, he could not keep a hard-charging Christopher Bell behind him with the eventual winner, Bell, making the final pass for the lead on lap 260.
"I just need to do a better job again," Elliott said. "I feel like it was a poor run of execution on my end throughout that last run. I feel like it took me awhile to get past Joey (Logano) and the No. 45 (Kurt Busch), and I had to run a little harder than I wanted to. I got in front of those guys, just made a couple of mistakes and couldn’t get much breathing room."
The 26-year-old driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has put together a strong summer thus far with a win at Nashville Superspeedway, a second-place run at Road America, a win at Atlanta Motor Speedway and today’s runner-up showing at "The Magic Mile." His finish today in New England stands as the 2020 champion’s best finish at this venue.
"When you’re in position like we’ve been in, you need to finish them off," Elliott said. "The reality is I’ve given away a couple of races just by making too many mistakes."
Elliott leaves New Hampshire having extended his regular season standings lead to 67 markers over Ross Chastain.
William Byron and Kyle Larson each scored points in both stages. Byron slipped out of the top 10 on the final lap to finish 11th in the race. Larson would end the race in 14th. An early-race incident on lap 6 saw Alex Bowman finish 35th in the race.
Next up for Hendrick Motorsports is “The Tricky Triangle” of Pocono Raceway on Sunday, July 24. The race will be at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network and radio coverage on MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: Second
Stage one: Elliott was on the front row to start the race, lining up second next to Martin Truex Jr. At the time of the first caution on lap 6, Elliott was scored in third and would restart there on lap 13. The three-time winner in 2022 would settle in that spot behind Bubba Wallace before being passed on the outside by teammate Kyle Larson for third. After the pass, the points leader reported that he was “just loose, overbuilt the right rear.” Elliott would hold off Kevin Harvick to finish the stage in fourth.
Stage two: Elliott would pit during the stage break for four tires, fuel and a half round out of the right rear. He would restart stage two in eighth on lap 78. A quick caution would see Elliott stay out to restart eighth on lap 84 and he would be scored there during the fourth caution on lap 90. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native would pit for two tires. He would make a second stop under caution to tighten the lug nuts on the right side and ultimately put on left-side tires. Elliott would restart 22nd on lap 101 and pick up 10 spots over the next six laps to get back into the top 12. Flying up through the field on four fresh tires, he was back in the top 10 with a pass on Christopher Bell on lap 118. Running his left-side tires on the apron, Elliott ran down Aric Almirola for ninth and Wallace for eighth. He did the same to grab seventh from Chris Buescher on lap 139, which is where he was running at the time of the fifth caution on lap 147. Crew chief Alan Gustafson brought Elliott down pit road for four tires and fuel and he would restart seventh on lap 152. Elliott would gain a spot to be scored in sixth before a quick caution came out on lap 153. On lap 159, Elliott drove to outside of Austin Cindric to rejoin the top five and was in that spot when the caution came on lap 164. Restarting fifth on lap 168, the 26-year-old passed Kurt Busch and Joey Logano for third. Elliott would finish the stage in third.
Final stage: Elliott hit pit road during the stage break for four tires and fuel to gain one spot on pit road with a 10.74-second stop (their best four-tire stop of the day). With three drivers staying out, the No. 9 would restart fifth on lap 193. He would get past Kyle Busch on lap 195 for fourth and he’d also get Harrison Burton for third on the next lap. Elliott would pass another Chase – Briscoe – for second on lap 200. A caution on lap 206 saw Elliott scored in second and he would pit for four tires and fuel. He would restart in 10th on lap 210 (three cars stayed out) and be the first car on four fresh tires and two laps later, he was in the top five. On lap 215, Elliott would dive to the bottom to pass Larson for fourth. On lap 218, he passed Cole Custer, who stayed out, for third. Elliott had Joey Logano in his sights for second but could quite get around him. The No. 9 came under fire from Christopher Bell, who was the next car on four fresh tires, and the 2020 champion would run the outside to keep Bell at bay. On lap 243, having closed in on Logano, Elliott and the No. 22 made contact off of turn four with Elliott getting into the left side of the 2018 champion. He would pass Logano for second. The No. 9 would close in on Kurt Busch for the lead and the two would make a little contact. On lap 247, Elliott would get the lead with a pass on the inside of Busch with Bell close behind them as well. As the run continued, Bell would chip away at Elliott’s lead with lap traffic playing a role and the No. 9 would lose the lead on lap 260. The driver radioed in that he “just hurt the rears.” Elliott’s spotter Eddie D’Hondt encouraged the driver to stay after it saying, “he (Bell) struggles in traffic.” Elliott would continue to run in second to Bell with a sizable gap over third-place Wallace and finish the race as the runner up.
William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 11th
Stage one: Byron lined up sixth for Sunday’s race and was still running there on lap 6 at the time of the first caution. In the initial laps, the two-time winner in 2022 reported he was a “little too free through the corner.” He would stay out and restart sixth on lap 13. Byron would slip to ninth on lap 30 and radioed in that he had “no grip and bouncing real bad.” Crew chief Rudy Fugle told Byron he was “doing good here” as he maintained ninth with 15 to go in the stage. Byron would gain on Aric Almirola to try and get eighth before the stage ended, but would ultimately finish the stage in ninth.
Stage two: Byron would hit pit road under the stage break for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure and chassis adjustment. He would restart 10th on lap 78 and stay out following a quick caution after the restart. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native would restart from the 11th position on lap 8 and be scored in 12th when the fourth caution came on lap 90. Byron would pit for two right-side tires, fuel and another round of air and chassis adjustments. He would restart 16th on lap 101 and jumped up to 12th two laps later. Being scored in 14th on lap 127, Byron radioed in that he was “better everywhere this run except the entry. Still need major help there.” When the yellow came out on lap 147, the 24-year-old was running 12th. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Byron would restart 15th on lap 152 and still be scored there when a quick caution came out. On lap 158, Byron passed Ross Chastain to get back into the top 10 with 28 laps to go in the stage. When the seventh caution was out on lap 164, he was scored in 11th and would stay out. He would drive to the outside of Bubba Wallace and Austin Cindric for ninth just after the restart. Byron would chase down Christopher Bell for eighth on lap 173. He would finish the stage in eighth.
Final stage: In pit stops during the stage break, Byron stopped for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustment. He would restart 11th - with top three drivers not pitting - for the final stage on lap 193. Scored in 11th on the lap 206 caution, Byron said he was “just too loose to start that run.” He would pit for two right-side tires and fuel and restart in eighth (three cars stayed out) on lap 210. Byron would drive to the outside on the restart to get into the top six. Drivers with four tires would see his position slip to ninth on lap 220 and a loss of momentum dropped him just outside of the top 10 in 11th on lap 222. Byron would pass teammate Kyle Larson for tenth on lap 240 before Denny Hamlin would get the position on lap 252. He would rejoin the top 10 when Kurt Busch pitted on lap 270. He would grab ninth as he and Brad Keselowski got around Kyle Busch for the position on lap 278. Byron would drop out of the top 10 on the last lap when Kurt Busch was able to pass him for the position.
Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Patriotic Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 14th
Stage one: Larson took the green flag from the eighth and passed his teammate William Byron in turn three on lap 3 to get into the top five. He would stay out under caution on lap 6 and restart fifth on lap 13. Early in the run, Larson set his sights on Kurt Busch for fourth and would claim the position on lap 27. The reigning champion was the third-fastest car midway through the stage behind Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. On lap 35, he went to the high line to pass teammate Chase Elliott for third. By lap 44, he was the fastest car on the track and was gaining on Bubba Wallace for second – nearly completing the pass on lap 60. Larson would finish the stage in third.
Stage two: Pitting during the stage break, Larson would pit for four tires and fuel. He reported that he felt he used up his tires at the end of stage one, but loved his car. Larson would restart stage two in third on lap 78. A quick caution would see Larson stay out to restart third on lap 84 and grabbed second immediately from Harvick. At the time of the fourth caution on lap 90, he was second. Crew chief Kevin Meendering called Larson down pit road under the yellow for two right-side tires and fuel. With a host of different strategies, Larson would restart eighth on lap 101 – the first car with new right-side tires. He would use as much of the low line as he could to try and gain ground as he passed Kurt Busch for seventh. On lap 116, Larson passed Wallace for sixth and three laps later, he passed rookie Austin Cindric for a spot back in the top five. Hooking the bottom, he was able to take fourth away from Harvick on lap 130. He picked off third from Chris Buescher, who stayed out under the previous caution, on lap 132. The No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet would lose the spot to Harvick on lap 141. When the fifth caution came out on lap 147, Larson was fourth. The winner at Auto Club Speedway this year radioed in that he “can’t exit in the high lane because I can’t lean on right rear.” He pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment before restarting sixth on lap 152. A quick caution a lap later would see Larson scored in eighth. When the caution came out on lap 164, he was scored in sixth and would stay out for the lap 168 restart. Larson would hug the bottom line to pass Kurt Busch for fifth and finish the stage in that position.
Final stage: Under the stage break, Larson would pit for service and restarted 12th on lap 193. Larson would pass teammate William Byron to get back into the top 10 on the next lap. A caution on lap 206 saw Larson scored in ninth and he would pit for fuel only. That set him up to restart fifth - with three cars staying out - on lap 210. He got to fourth a lap after the restart – the first of the cars that had pitted as Kurt Busch, Joey Logano and Cole Custer had all stayed out and would need to stop one more time. Larson would be passed by Elliott and Christopher Bell to drop to sixth on lap 215 and 216. Not taking tires on the previous pit stop saw the No. 5 fall to 10th on lap 230 and Larson radioed in “I’ve got no grip.” That trend would continue as the run stayed green for the final 92 laps.
Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 35th
Stage one: Bowman took the grid from the 27th spot. On lap 6, the Tucson, Arizona, native made contact on the backstretch with Ty Dillon. Dillon looked to overcorrect after getting to the door of Justin Haley and that saw him turn into the outside wall right in front of Bowman, who had no place to go. Bowman’s car would also receive contact from Josh Bilicki and BJ McLeod. The 48 team would be done for the day. This marked the third time in four Cup Series races that Bowman exited an event early due to an incident.