TALLADEGA, Ala. - Chase Elliott’s big move on the green-white-checkered finished put him in position to grab the victory at Talladega Superspeedway and he did just that.
Elliott took the lead on the final lap from Ryan Blaney with the help of a big push from Erik Jones and he was able to hold his fellow playoff driver as well as Michael McDowell and a host of others off for the win.
"Yeah, it was a wild last couple laps," Elliott said. "I wasn't super crazy about being on the bottom. Fortunately, I got just clear enough off of two to slide up in front of Erik (Jones). He gave me some great shoves. Obviously. a Team Chevy partner there.
"Had a good enough run to get out front, then I was able to stay far enough in front of Ryan (Blaney) here at the line to get it done."
PHOTOS: See scenes from victory lane as Elliott, No. 9 team celebrate
The win locks the driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 into the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The victory is also his series-best fifth of the season and 18th of his Cup Series career. This also marks the first time a playoff driver has won in the 2022 postseason.
In addition to the race win, the regular-season champion also picked up his sixth stage win of the season. When the points reset for the Round of 8, Elliott will start with at least 4,046 points (pending the results of the race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL).
RELATED: How Hendrick Motorsports' drivers stack up heading to Charlotte ROVAL
"This is great momentum for him," team owner Rick Hendrick said. "This race means a lot to Chase. It was great to see the fans excited. It was a heck of a race."
William Byron finished 12th in the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The result snapped his four-race streak of top-10 finishes to open the playoffs.
Kyle Larson finished 18th in the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. While Larson saw his three-race streak of top-10 finishes snapped, he did score 11 stage points to add to his points position for playoff advancement.
Noah Gragson came in 19th in his first start for Hendrick Motorsports. Gragson filled in for Alex Bowman in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend. Bowman was sidelined by concussion-like symptoms following an accident at Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 25.
The race saw 57 lead changes. Elliott led 10 circuits on the day, including the most important one. Larson led eight laps and Byron led one.
Elliott now leads the points standings. Larson is in sixth and is +18 on the cutoff line. Byron remains in 10th and is -11 on the cutoff line with the appeal of his post-Texas Motor Speedway penalty to be held this week. Bowman is in 12th and -54 to the cutoff line.
The win was Hendrick Motorsports’ 14th at the 2.66-mile track in Alabama. Elliott now has two Cup Series victories at the facility. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon has six victories to lead all drivers for the Rick Hendrick-owned organization at the venue.
Next up is the cutoff race of the Round of 12 at the Charlotte ROVAL on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 2 p.m. ET. Four drivers will be eliminated from the playoff picture at the end of the event. Hendrick Motorsports has won the last three races at the 17-turn road course. Larson is the defending race winner and Elliott won the previous two events at the Concord, North Carolina, track.
Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: First
Stage one: Elliott started the race from the 16th position. The outside line got moving right away and he was in the top 10 after the first lap. When the first caution came out on lap nine, the regular-season champion was scored in sixth and stayed out to restart fifth on lap 12. He ran on the inside lane right behind Aric Almirola in line. When the caution came on lap 25, the four-time winner in 2022 was scored in fifth. Crew chief Alan Gustafson called Elliott down pit road under yellow for a fuel-only stop. The driver of the No. 9 restarted fourth in the outside lane on lap 30. On the next lap, he made a move to the low line to take the lead away from Daniel Suarez. He stayed on the inside lane as he, Suarez and Almirola went back and fourth battling for the lead. As the pack got a little more racey, the outside started to surge forward and Elliott fell to sixth on lap 37. He was scored in that position at the third caution of the day on lap 46. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native stayed out to keep his track position and restarted sixth on lap 50. On lap 51, Elliott pushed Cole Custer to the lead on the outside before the inside regained the momentum. On lap 54, he was the lead car on the outside lane in eighth and that lane gained a lot of energy in the closing laps as he moved up to second. Elliott finished third in the stage to earn eight stage points.
Stage two: The 26-year-old pitted for four tires and fuel under the stage break before restarting seventh on lap 66. He fell outside the top 10 in the early going of the stage and was running on the inside lane. On lap 78, he got back into the top 10 before the outside lane gained some more momentum. He worked his way back into the top 10 as the inside lane became the place to be around the middle of the stage. Pitting from eighth on lap 100, Elliott took fuel only. When the cycle of stops completed, he was scored in fourth. Working with his teammate Kyle Larson, Elliott was able to push him to the lead as he sat in second. They would battle back and forth with fellow Chevrolets Tyler Reddick and Suarez for the lead in the closing laps. Larson and Elliott had a close call in the closing laps but the driver of the No. 5 was able to hang on to it. Elliott made a big move coming into the tri-oval to snare the stage win for his sixth stage win of the season and 10 valuable points.
Final stage: During the stage break, Elliott pitted for four tires and fuel and won the race off pit road. He controlled the restart on lap 127. Once again, Elliott and Larson worked together while holding down spots in the top five. However, the outside lane’s energy overtook the inside lane and saw the driver of the No. 9 slide to the back of the top 10. He eventually moved to the back of the main pack in 20th as the bulk of the field went single file. However, Elliott was working the inside lane and trying to help it gain energy to the front. At lap 152, that inside lane was really making inroads on the outside lane. Drivers began maneuvering to the bottom to position for their final pit stops on lap 157 as Elliott ran 12th with 30 laps to go. On lap 161, he pitted from fifth for two right-side tires and fuel. When the green-flag cycle of stops was complete, Elliott was scored in eighth. With 17 laps to go, the winner of the 2019 spring race at Talladega Superspeedway was in fifth as the inside lane was coming. The inside then lost energy and that saw Elliott fall out of the top 10. With nine laps to go, the inside lane got its energy back and Elliott rejoined the top 10 in seventh on lap 179. As the race came to seven to go, Elliott was up to third behind Erik Jones and Michael McDowell leading the inside line. At the time of the sixth caution with six laps to go, he was in fifth and restarted there with two laps to go. Elliott jumped into the outside lane after the restart and with a big push from Jones, to challenge Ryan Blaney for the lead on the final lap. The No. 9 surged ahead coming to the tri-oval and was able to hold off Blaney, McDowell and others for the victory.
William Byron, No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 12th
Stage one: Byron took to the grid from the ninth position and fell back a bit as the inside lane struggled to get going on the start. When the lap nine caution came out, he was scored in 16th. Crew chief Rudy Fugle called for a fuel-only stop that put his driver in 15th for the lap 12 restart. With the lanes two-by-two, there wasn’t a ton of movement following the restart. When the second caution came out on lap 25, Byron was in 14th. He pitted to top off on fuel for the second half of the 60-lap stage and restarted 12th on lap 30. A lap later, the 24-year-old was in the top 10 and he continued to work the outside lane to gain spots. On lap 36, he jumped into the top three and on lap 40, he was running second to leader Denny Hamlin. The two-time winner was scored in second at the lap 46 caution and stayed out to restart on the inside lane of front row on lap 50. Byron moved in front of his teammate Chase Elliott to take the lead on lap 56. But a surge from Hamlin and Elliott saw Byron fall to the back of the top 10 as the top continued to build. When the stage came to a close, Byron just missed on stage points as he finished 11th.
Stage two: The driver of the No. 24 pitted for four tires and fuel under the stage break before restarting 15th on lap 66. In the early laps of the stage, Byron got hung out to dry and fell outside the top 20. Fugle told his driver to “take care of our stuff until we stop.” He methodically worked back into the top 20 over the next handful of laps. At the middle of the stage, Byron and the team moved to the outside line to work to gain ground. Pitting from 11th on lap 100 with a bunch of Chevrolets, Byron took fuel only and cycled out in 17th. As drivers began racing to get in position for stage points with stage two coming to a close, he surged up to 13th with eight laps left in the stage. Byron finished stage two in 15th.
Final stage: During the stage break, Byron pitted four tires and fuel. The No. 24 crew set him up to restart sixth on lap 127. Byron worked his way to second by pushing Chris Buescher to the lead on lap 128 before slipping to the back of the top 10 as the outside lane’s energy surged. He eventually would fall back to 15th on lap 136 and the bulk of the field would go single file. However, Byron was working with others on the inside line. At lap 152, that inside lane was making inroads on the outside lane. With 30 laps to go, Byron was running 17th. On lap 161, he pitted from ninth with a big pack of cars for two right-side tires as well as fuel. With the pit cycle complete, Byron was scored in 15th. He stayed on the inside line as he looked to move forward in 13th. However, the outside lane had too much energy and that saw everyone on the inside lane fall back a few spots. But then the inside got moving again and Byron moved back up to 12th. A lap later, he was in the top 10. When the sixth caution came out with six laps to go, Byron was scored in 11th and restarted there with two laps to go. He finished 12th – his first finish outside the top 10 in the playoffs.
Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 18th
Stage one: Larson lined up on the front row in second. In the early going, he stayed on the bottom with Aric Almirola running in front of him. At the time of the lap nine caution, Larson was running fourth and came down for fuel only. He restarted 13th on lap 12. With the lanes two-by-two, there wasn’t a ton of movement following the restart. At the time of the second caution on lap 25, Larson was scored in 13th. Crew chief Cliff Daniels had his driver pit for fuel only and he restarted 11th on lap 30. The pack started getting racey and a little more spread out than before. That saw Larson fall back to 18th on lap 37. On the third caution of the day on lap 46, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion was in 21st. Larson pitted for two right-side tires under yellow and restarted 18th on lap 50. The 30-year-old was in the lead pack of cars fighting for stage points as the stage was coming to a close. Working the outside lane, Larson was able to get up into the top 10 with two laps to go. He finished the stage in eighth to score three stage points.
Stage two: Larson came down for two left-side tires under the stage break after taking two right-side tires under the last caution of stage one. The strategy play helped him win the race off of pit road and led the field for the lap 66 restart. Larson led the inside lane for a bit before Erik Jones dropped down in front of him on lap 67. With the outside lane becoming a popular place, he fell outside the top five. However, he moved to the outside lane and found his way to sixth place on lap 81 and then back inside the top five in fourth just two laps later. Pitting from fourth on lap 100, Larson took fuel only. When pit stops were completed, he was scored in third. Working the inside lane with teammate Chase Elliott behind him, Larson moved to second and was challenging for the lead. On lap 111, he took the lead with a big push from Elliott with 10 to go in the stage. They would battle back and forth with fellow Chevrolets Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez for the lead in the closing laps. Larson and Elliott had a close call in the closing laps but the driver of the No. 5 was able to hang on to it. Larson held the lead but a big move by Elliott saw Larson finish in third, but picking up a strong eight stage points.
Final stage: During the stage break, Larson pitted for four tires and fuel. He came off pit road third but and the two-time winner in 2022 restarted there on lap 127. Once again, Elliott and Larson worked together while holding down spots in the top five. However, the outside lane’s energy overtook the inside lane and saw Larson slide outside the top 10. He moved to the back of the main pack as the field went single file. The driver of the No. 5 worked the outside lane for quite a bit and was in 14th with 30 laps to go. He pitted from seventh on lap 161 with a slew of cars and Daniels called for two right-side tires and fuel. Larson cycled out in the top 10 as the final stage continued. With 18 to go, he was scored in eighth. As the racing picked up and everyone started making moves, Larson got shuffled out a bit and ended up back in 22nd. At the time of the sixth caution with six laps to go, he was in 22nd and he restarted from 21st with two laps to go. He gained three spots in the final two laps to finish 18th.
Noah Gragson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 19th
Stage one: Gragson started the 188-lap race from seventh. When the lap nine caution came out, he was scored in 13th. Crew chief Greg Ives had his driver pit for fuel only under the caution and Gragson restarted 18th on lap 12. The Las Vegas native worked to create a third lane on the outside but got caught in a multi-car wreck on lap 25 involving Harrison Burton, Joey Logano, Austin Cindric, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and others. Gragson pitted to repair light damage on the No. 48 and then pitted again for four tires and to check the underwing and the team’s repair work. He restarted 34th on lap 30. By lap 42, he had rejoined the top 20 and he was running 22nd when the third caution of the day came out on lap 46. Gragson stayed out to gain some track position and restart 16th on lap 50. He worked the outside lane to move up into the top 15 and continued to work the top to jump into the top 10 with three laps to go. The NASCAR Xfinity Series regular finished stage one in ninth.
Stage two: Gragson pitted for four tires and fuel under the stage break before restarting 16th on lap 66. Shortly after the restart, he hopped out of the pack and dropped to the back of the pack for a bit. But then he was slowly working his way forward as he got back inside the top 20 on lap 73. He continued to move up, joining the outside line to ride up into the top 10 on lap 82. He then fell back as the outside lane lost momentum. Gragson pitted from 14th with a bunch of fellow Chevrolets on lap 100 for fuel only. He cycled out in 23rd once the green flag stops were completed and finished the stage in 13th.
Final stage: Under the stage break, Gragson pitted for four tires and fuel. He came back down pit road to get more fuel before restarting 25th on lap 127. The young driver rode in the back at the opening of the stage but moved to get lined up with some Chevrolets including several teammates on lap 137. The field went single file for a stretch shortly after that and the 24-year-old rode in the outside lane. He got back into the top 20 on lap 155. Gragson found himself back in 24th with 30 laps to go as the field went single file some more as drivers got in position to make their final pit stops. He pitted from 14th on lap 161 for two right-side tires and fuel. The driver of the No. 48 cycled to ninth after his pit stop. He rode in the outside lane with 16 to go as he looked to earn a second top-10 finish in his Cup Series career. With 13 laps to go, Gragson was the highest Hendrick Motorsports driver in seventh. When the caution came out with six laps to go, he was in 12th and restarted there with two laps to go. He got shuffled back in the final two-lap sprint and finished 19th in his first start for Hendrick Motorsports.