Chase Elliott Claims First-Career NASCAR Cup Series Win at Watkins Glen

Elliott held off Martin Truex Jr. on the final lap of the GoBowling.com at The Glen to give Hendrick Motorsports its 250th win.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series GoBowling at The Glen
Jeff Zelevansky—Getty Images

Chase Elliott claimed his first-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in his 99th race Sunday when he took the checkered flag at Watkins Glen International in New York. The win also was the 250th for Hendrick Motorsports and the first non-restricted for Chevrolet in 2018.

“Holy cow! What a thrill!  I don’t know what to say,” Elliott said. “I’m just so thrilled and so emotional. There’s so much relief, you know; it’s been working on three years, and I hadn’t won a one and came here with a good opportunity today. I was able to get it done, but just thanks to all the fans. I hope all my buddies are ready to get rowdy tonight, because it’s going to be a good one.”

Elliott bobbled on the final lap as he held off Martin Truex Jr., but Truex fell back after running out of fuel.

“I started to wheel hop,” Elliott said. “I knocked it out of gear to not spin out and luckily had a big enough gap where he couldn’t get me, but what a day.”

Still, Truex was able to coast to second.

“I gave it everything I had for our guys at Bass Pro Shops, 5-Hour Energy and Toyota, and all of our partners,” Truex said. “I gave it everything I had every single lap. I could catch him, but right when I got close, I’d get loose and fall back. I was too loose all day. Traffic made it worse, for sure. He had the upper hand there at the end. We were a little faster but hats off to him. He did a great job. He put his car exactly where I needed mine to be. I couldn’t get it, and I was sideways. Congrats to him on his first win. We ran out of gas the last lap anyway, so I guess it wouldn’t have mattered. I’m proud of my guys. I am proud of the effort. I love coming to these road courses.”

Erik Jones also ran out of fuel on the final lap, but unlike Truex, he lost a couple positions, dropping from third to fifth by the checkered flag, losing out to Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez.

Elliott’s fuel cell ran dry right after the race, necessitating a push from HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson and then Elliott’s No. 9 crew to get to victory lane.

Truex and Elliott were winners of the two 20-lap stages that made up the first 40 laps of the 90-lap race.

Busch led most of the first stage after starting on the front row and taking the lead from pole sitter and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate on Lap 2. He gave up the lead, though, to pit in the closing laps of the opening stage, as did 12 other drivers. Truex inherited the lead for the stage-one win, but restarted 12th at the beginning of stage two after pitting between the stages.

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Kyle Busch leads the way

Kyle Busch runs up front at Watkins Glen International in the GoBowling.com at The Glen on Aug. 5, 2018.

After staying out between stages, Busch was back up front at the beginning of the second stage. Elliott took the lead on Lap 27 and was still up front when the second stage ended at Lap 40. By the end of the second stage, Truex was back inside the top-five.

After the second stage, frontrunners opted to stay out, waiting until they were in their fuel window to make their next stop their final stop. So Elliott was still up front for the beginning of the third 50-lap stage. On the restart, though, Busch got out in front of Elliott to retake the lead.

A caution for Matt DiBenedetto on Lap 52 came at the perfect time to give drivers a chance to make their final pit stop under caution on three laps later. Despite the yellow flag, pit stops were problematic for several teams and drivers, including Busch. A problem fueling his No. 18 resulted in a return trip to the pits and a restart outside the top-20. Elliott clipped one of his pit crew members, and a member of Hamlin’s team was struck in the head by an air gun. Neither were injured.

Elliott got off pit road first to reassume his lead. Soon after the restart, Truex moved into second. Busch was inside the top-five with 10 laps remaining, but he was 20 seconds behind the leading Elliott.

“I had a fast race car and did a good job behind the wheel, I guess,” Busch said. “It doesn’t show anything for the result that we wanted to get. Two years in a row here, we had pit road miscues and guess it’s just called bad luck. It’s kind of frustrating when you know you come here every year with a vengeance to go out here and win this race and you’re the fastest car and you’re arguably the fastest car, or arguably the fastest guy and not able to perform or execute I should say. The performance was awesome. Can’t say enough about Chase Elliott and the 9 team. They had a great race car. I told everybody pre-race, told everybody yesterday in the media center to look out for the 9, and I was right. I wish that we could have raced with him a little bit there. Obviously, congratulations for his first win. That’s pretty cool. He passed me there in the mid-point of the race. He had me under pressure—had me loose, and I had a couple bad exits, so gave way to him—let him have it and tried to hang with him, and he drove away from me. Then, on the next restart, we got in front of him and drove away from him, so I think we were pretty equally matched.”

GOBOWLING.COM AT THE GLEN RESULTS:
1. Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevrolet
2. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Toyota
3. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota
4. Daniel Suarez, No. 19 Toyota
5. Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota
6. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet
7. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet
8. William Byron, No. 24 Chevrolet
9. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Ford
10. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Ford
11. Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Ford
12. Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Ford
13. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota
14. Alex Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet
15. A.J. Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford
17. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford
18. Michael McDowell, No. 34 Ford
19. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet
20. Chris Buescher, No. 37 Chevrolet
21. Kasey Kahne, No. 95 Chevrolet
22. Aric Almirola, No. 10 Ford
23. Ty Dillon, No. 13 Chevrolet
24. Parker Kligerman, No. 96 Toyota
25. Darrell Wallace Jr., No. 43 Chevrolet
26. David Ragan, No. 38 Ford
27. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet
28. Paul Menard, No. 21 Ford
29. Matt Kenseth, No. 6 Ford
30. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet
31. Landon Cassill, No. 00 Chevrolet
32. Ross Chastain, No. 15 Chevrolet
33. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 32 Ford
34. Cole Whitt, No. 72 Chevrolet
35. Spencer Gallagher, No. 23 Toyota
36. Josh Bilicki, No. 51 Ford
37. Joey Logano, No. 32 Ford

UP NEXT: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to its regular oval track type on August 12 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The Michigan race will be the second visit to the track in 2018 and the 23rd race of the 26-race regular season. Clint Bowyer won at Michigan earlier this season, but Kyle Larson is the defending winner of the August race there. Larson’s win at MIS in August 2017 was his third-straight Michigan victory.