SPARTA, Ky. – Chase Elliott led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the checkered flag in third Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway, earning his sixth top-five finish of the season.
It marked Elliott's best career NASCAR Cup Series race at the Bluegrass State track, which ended in overtime.
“I’m really proud of our NAPA Chevy team tonight,” Elliott said. “I feel like we executed the night well and had really good pit stops and made the most of a good car. We made the most of what we had and that’s a step in the right direction. So let’s keep putting some top-five’s together and we’ll see what we can do.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a solid run and finished inside the top 15 in 12th.
Teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne were involved in two separate incidents in the beginning of Stage 2. After making contact with the wall, heavy damage forced both drivers to end their races early. Kahne and Johnson were scored 38th and 40th, respectively.
“It’s just dicey on the restarts,” Johnson said. “But we had a strong Lowe’s Chevrolet. I hate it for the guys that we didn’t get a better finish. The car felt great.”
Martin Truex Jr. won the race.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Rolling off the grid 23rd, Kahne gained eight positions in the first 80 laps of the race to finish Stage 1 in 15th. He restarted Stage 2 in 13th and was soon knocking on the door of the top 10 when contact with a competitor sent the No. 5 Mountain Dew Chevy into the wall. The incident ended Kahne’s night early and he was scored 38th.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Elliott started the race in 12th and easily worked his way into the top 10, ending Stage 1 in 10th and earning one bonus point. Using his momentum from the first 80 laps, Elliott restarted Stage 2 in ninth and continuously worked his way through the field and into the top five. After the race's first 100 laps, he was scored fifth. However, after pitting during the race’s fifth caution, Elliott restarted 20th and had to work his way back up through the field. He finished Stage 2 in 10th and earned one more bonus point. Elliott and the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy team produced a quick pit stop after the stage-ending caution and continued to utilize pit road strategy to advance through the field. He was running sixth by Lap 203 but the team elected to make a green-flag pit stop for four tires and fuel 17 laps later. The move landed the No. 24 team in fifth with 35 laps remaining. Elliott raced inside the top five and climbed up to fourth before the eighth and final caution of the race. He pitted for four fresh tires under the caution period in an attempt to make a run at the leaders. After restarting fifth in overtime, Elliott was able to notch two positions to take the checkered flag in third.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Johnson took the green flag in eighth and worked through some adjustments in Stage 1 to finish ninth, earning two bonus points. As the green flag waved for Stage 2, Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS team were involved in an incident with a competitor, resulting in contact with the wall. Johnson’s race ended prematurely that left the team with a 40th-place finish.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: After starting the race 13th, Earnhardt slipped to the 16th position 10 laps into Stage 1 due to a tight-handling Chevy. Adjustments made during the competition caution allowed him to work his way back way into the top 15. Earnhardt finished Stage 1 in 13th and restarted Stage 2 from 11th. During the second stage's 80 laps, Earnhardt made a pit stop during the race's fifth caution that placed him 21st for the restart. He was able to advance through the field and take the green-checkered flag in 12th. After a routine pit stop under caution, Earnhardt and the No. 88 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet SS team restarted the final stage in 18th. He spent the majority of the stage continuing his forward progress and even took the lead with 40 laps to go as green-flag pit stops were underway. Two laps later, he elected to pit for tires and fuel before heading back on track in 14th with 20 to go. Earnhardt jumped two more spots to ultimately finish the caution-ending race in 12th.