WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Sunday afternoon at Watkins Glen International, Chase Elliott earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series win and led Hendrick Motorsports to its historic 250th victory.
Hendrick Motorsports becomes just the second organization in NASCAR Cup Series history to reach 250 wins.
“Holy cow, what a thrill. I don’t know what to say,” Elliott said. “Just so thrilled, so emotional. So much relief.”
Elliott held off a furious effort from Martin Truex Jr. in the closing laps to become the ninth different first-time winner for Hendrick Motorsports, a new record among all Cup Series teams.
As he made his way his way to Victory Lane, the driver of the No. 9 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 could feel the excitement and energy from the fans at Watkins Glen.
“That’s the coolest damn thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I just want y’all to know that. Very grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Let’s go get some more.”
Elliott had amassed eight runner-up finishes before capturing his first career Cup Series victory – and it came at a road course. His father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, also collected eight runner-up finishes before his first win, which came at a road course – Riverside International Raceway.
And the elder Elliott was on the radio during the race, helping to spot for the No. 9 team.
“Just glad to have him here,” the younger Elliott said. “He was pretty encouraging those last couple laps, which was certainly helpful. And I was able to get it done.”
At 22 years old, he also becomes the youngest first-time winner at a road course.
“Working on three years, hadn’t won one and came here with a great opportunity today and I was able to get it done,” Elliott said. “Just thank you to all the fans – you guys were rowdy after that checkered flag.”
Hendrick Motorsports also extended its lead on road courses, moving its Cup Series record win total to 16.
William Byron was the next Hendrick Motorsports teammate to the checkered flag on Sunday, finishing in eighth and earning his third top-10 finish of the season.
Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson were next to the finish line, finishing in 14th and 30th, respectively.
Below is a closer look at how all four Hendrick Motorsports teammates performed Sunday afternoon.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 SUNENERGY1 CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Leading his teammates to the green flag in third, Elliott continued to run inside the top five for the majority of the first stage of the race. With three laps to go in the opening segment, the No. 9 team made a strategy call to have Elliott head to pit road prior to the end of stage, leaving him to finish Stage 1 in 18th.
- Elliott stayed on track during the caution between stages and when the race went back to green on the Lap 25 restart, Elliott was back in third. Two laps later, Elliott was running second when he made a successful move on the leader to take the lead.
- The driver stayed in front for the final 14 laps of the middle segment to capture the Stage 2 victory. The stage win marked his third stage win of the season – all three of which have come in the past three weeks – and earned him 10 extra points and an additional playoff point.
- Elliott lost his lead on the restart for the final segment, but the driver remained in second closely behind the leader. He regained the lead back out of a caution on Lap 57, and Elliott remained in front all the way to checkered flag, holding off a hard-charging Truex to earn his first career Cup Series win – Hendrick Motorsports’ 250th Cup Series victory.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 HERTZ CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Rolling off the grid 16th, Byron broke into top the top 10 within the first five laps, running ninth by Lap 4. When several competitors pitted late in Stage 1, Byron stayed on the track to move up an additional six positions and finish Stage 1 in third. The result earned him eight extra points.
- After heading to pit road, Byron took the Stage 2 green flag in 15th, and the driver of the No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 battled throughout the middle segment to stay inside the top 15. Over the 20-lap segment, consistent racing saw the driver gain three positions to finish Stage 2 in 12th.
- In the caution between stages, solid work by the No. 24 team helped Byron gain four positions and move in to eighth by Lap 46. The driver continued to race around the top 10, still running in eight by Lap 67. Byron held that position as the laps wound down, taking home his third top-10 finish of the season, finishing eighth.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S FOR PROS CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Starting the day in 13th, Johnson got to work quickly and moved up five positions to settle into eighth by Lap 4. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pro’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 stayed inside the top 10 for the remainder of the opening segment, and he jumped up to second when competitors headed to pit road with three laps to go in Stage 1. The No. 48 team made a strategy call to leave Johnson on the track, and he finished the opening segment as the runner-up, picking up nine extra points.
- After heading to pit road between stages, Johnson took the Stage 2 restart in 13th. Despite battling a rear-view mirror issue, he picked up two additional positions in the middle segment to finish Stage 2 in 11th.
- Johnson started the final segment in the rear after receiving a penalty on pit road for driving through too many pit stalls. Though starting in the rear, Johnson battled to work his way back up the field, and by Lap 51 he returned to the top 20, running 20. Johnson continued to gain positions the stretch and was running 14th by Lap 75.
- Contact from a competitor caused damage to the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the closing laps and Johnson was shuffled down to 28th with under 10 laps to go. He continued to battle to the checkered flag, ultimately finishing 30th.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Taking the green flag in 22nd, Bowman picked up two positions early in Stage 1, running 20th by Lap 6. When competitors made green-flag green stops toward the end of the opening segment, Bowman stayed on track and moved into the top 10, finishing Stage 1 in seventh. The result earned Bowman three extra points.
- Taking the Stage 2 restart in 14th after a trip to pit road, Bowman was shuffled down five positions and ran 18th on Lap 31. The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 battled in the closing laps of Stage 2, moving up two positions to finish the segment 16th.
- Bowman steadily gained positions in the final segment, and by Lap 58 he was running 13th. The driver continued inside the top 15 to the end of the race, ultimately taking home a 14th-place result.