CONCORD, N.C.—Chase Elliott wasn’t going to let a wreck get in his way of winning on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Elliott took the lead on Lap 49 to win Stage 2. He retained the point through the second stage and led the field into Turn 1. 15 laps later, locked up his brakes and went nose-first into the tire barrier on Lap 65—but it didn’t end his quest at The Roval.
Over the final 45 circuits, Elliott soldiered on to win his third race of 2019 and the sixth of his career.
“What a day,” Elliott said. “I was about as tired as I think I’ve ever been after an event. So, I just appreciate the effort. The guys just didn’t quit. It was unbelievable, they fixed the thing the right away.
“A lot of times, you can make mistakes fixing these things and sometimes you can even make it worse. They made sure they did it the right way and got us a win.”
Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano rounded out the top 10.
Ryan Newman, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Erik Jones were eliminated from the Playoffs at the end of the Bank of America Roval 400.
Byron started from the pole and led the first 21 laps. On the opening Lap, Truex, Bowman and Bubba Wallace missed the chicane and all served penalties. After Ryan Preece spun in Turn 11 to ignite the first caution, Byron pitted and Larson took over at the point on Lap 22. One lap later, Kurt Busch tagged the rear of Chris Buescher’s car entering Turn 1 and collected Johnson, Bowman, Denny Hamlin and Jones—ending the day and Playoff hopes of the driver of the No. 20 Toyota. Jones finished 40th.
The track remained under yellow throughout the conclusion of the segment, allowing Larson to grab the stage win and the 10 bonus points. Byron, Bowyer, Logano, Blaney, Keselowski, Almirola, Harvick, Elliott and Daniel Suarez completed the top 10.
Larson pitted on Lap 27 and Logano assumed the lead. NASCAR busted the No. 42 Chevy for pitting outside the box and Larson was held a lap. He dropped to 35th, one lap down on Lap 27. Logano turned over the lead to Elliott on Lap 31 and pitted five laps later. He hit the wall leaving the pits and was forced to come in again for repairs.
“I just came off pit road there and the 1 was underneath me,” said Logano, who dropped to 33rd after the incident. “I wanted to clear him into the corner and I drove off in there probably a little bit too hard and just went sliding.”
Elliott led 12 laps before the third caution was called on Lap 42 when Bowman dumped Wallace in Turn 12. Wallace, who was running 15th at the time, showed his displeasure with the driver of the No. 88 after the race by throwing his drink at him.
"Smooth move of playing the sick card so I couldn't bust him in his mouth,” Wallace told NASCAR.com.
Bowyer remained on the track and assumed the lead—hoping to gain stage points after entering the race 14th in the standings. Keselowski, who also stayed out, passed the No. 14 Ford on the restart. Elliott powered by the No. 2 Ford in Turn 5 for the lead on Lap 49 and held on to win the Stage. The victory locked Elliott into Round 2. Keselowski, Bowyer, Johnson, Harvick, Michael McDowell, Truex, Suarez, Paul Menard and Byron completed the top 10.
Bowyer pitted from third while the rest of the top 10 remained on the track. Elliott held serve through the fifth caution when Daniel Hemric spun in Turn 13, then proceeded to trigger the sixth caution when he locked up his brakes and ran into the Turn 1 wall on lap 65.
“I can’t believe I just did that,” said Elliott who dropped to 31st. After observing the damage, however, Elliott thought it wasn't that bad. "Obviously, just a really stupid mistake. I'm not sure you could do something more stupid than that. If there is a notebook of things not to do, that should be number one in the book."
Harvick claimed the lead followed by Keselowski, Truex, Johnson and Byron. Harvick pitted on Lap 75. Byron led two laps under pit stops before Elliott regained the point on Lap 79, then pitted two laps later. On fresh tires, Harvick returned to the lead on Lap 81 and pulled out to a seven-second lead over Truex in four laps.
Stenhouse slowed the action on Lap 90 after spinning in Turn 11. Two laps later, Preece, Hamlin, Menard and Newman were collected in Turn 6. Newman, who was battling for the 12th position continued on in 27th with 10 laps to decide the contest.
Harvick held the lead with Truex, Bowyer, Byron and Elliott in tow. Crew chief Alan Gustafson came over the radio and told Elliott he was “the best freakin’ road course racer out here.” The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet took the affirmation to heart. He moved up to fourth prior to the ninth caution for Suarez spinning, then up to third on the Lap 98 restart. NASCAR called the 10th and final caution after Kurt Busch made contact with Buescher and Preece. Once again, Newman found himself in the middle of the action.
NASCAR red-flagged the race for 8 minutes and 22 seconds on Lap 102. The race returned to green on Lap 103 with Harvick and Truex entering Turn 1 side-by-side. Harvick held on out of Turn 2, but Elliott buzzed up to second then passed Harvick out of the chicane with six laps to go.
At mid-pack, Newman and Almirola battled for several laps until the No. 6 Ford missed the chicane and was handed a 30-second penalty from NASCAR for ignoring a directive.
“I felt like I made a lot of mistakes trying too hard,” said Newman, who finished 32nd and missed the cut by 16 points. “We did not have the race car and that’s what I had to do. I felt like we were in a position at one point and then just kept trying too hard trying to keep the 10 car behind us and missed the curbs. That was unfortunate.
“We came in at a big deficiency and finished one point out or whatever it was, but, no matter what, we’re still gonna fight for fifth. I’m proud of everybody at Roush Fenway for the fight and the opportunity that they’ve given me. We’re not done, we’re just out at this point.”
Bowman, who restarted sixth, passed Harvick for second one lap later. Bowman held on till the finish for the 12th and final transfer spot before he was taken to the infield care center for dehydration.
“Yeah, I mean probably about lap 10 of the race, I was pretty done and out of it just from a physical standpoint,” Bowman said. “I just tried to keep digging and obviously, I tried to give it away on lap 1. As soon as I touched the brake pedal it started wheel-hopping and turned around on me.
“I apologize to those that got collected in that. I feel like I hurt myself more than anybody on that one. But I’m glad we were able to rebound and the guys obviously gave me a really strong car to get back through the field. There at the end, cautions were rough. Under green, it is what it is. But under caution, when you actually have time to think about how you feel, it’s not much fun.”
Truex still tops the standings with a 12-point advantage over Harvick.