NASCAR Cup Series standings leader Chase Elliott took his first win of the season in the weather-delayed DuraMAX Drydene 400 Monday at Dover Motor Speedway.
Elliott drove the last 53 laps of the 400 Laber and pulled away from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at the end in an action-packed race that was slowed 12 times for caution periods – including a red flag delay on Sunday that forced the restart to Monday.
It’s the 14th win in the career for Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 9 driver and 5 historic win for the organization in 2022. It’s the first time in NASCAR history that a team of its four drivers has won races in the opening 11 races of the season.
The 26-year-old Georgia native definitely had to work in this spot, with 17 major changes among the 10 drivers topping the leaderboard.
“There were good conditions finally,” said the sport’s most famous driver of his first victory on the elliptical since winning the 2020 Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway. “Just really appreciate [crew chief] right Now [Gustafson] And our entire team just sticks to it.
“We’ve had some tough races over the past four or five months and it has been great to bring NAPA back to Victory Lane and great to bring Hendrick Motorsports back to Victory Lane. So proud. It means so much in so many different ways. Just appreciate all the effort.”
“It was a fun day and we will definitely enjoy this,” Elliott continued, after thanking the fans who attended the closing of Monday’s race. “As I told them after the race, these guys, they’ve been worthy of one for a while and so glad we got to cross the line first. We’ll enjoy it for a few days and then go to work next week.”
He ended up only one position away from winning, but runner-up Stenhouse was almost as happy as the post-race winner. He finished only second in the top 10 of the season – second in the top 20 – for the #47 Chevrolet GTG Racing Chevrolet driver and had his best showing since finishing second at the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race in March 2021.
Stenhouse finished fifth on Stage 2 and ran in the top ten for the last 150 laps of the race, moving up to second behind Elliott with 51 laps remaining and following up on Elliott’s Chevrolet No. 9 for the remainder of the race.
Last week’s race winner Ross Chastain finished third in the #1 Track House Racing Chevrolet, but was in contact with three-time Dover winner Martin Trucks Jr on the last lap to fight for the position. The two touched Wolf Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota’s No. 19 in Truex. He recovered to finish 12th, and the two drivers then exchanged words on the pit lane.
When asked about the last lap incident and the post-checked flag showdown with Truex, Chastain smiled and said, “We’ve been talking about where we’re going to go fishing next week.”
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell was fourth followed by Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman, the 2021 race winner. Hendrick’s Kyle Larson was sixth followed by GGR Team driver Kyle Busch, who led the most laps (103) in Today and he was a tough contender for the cup before he got stuck in a pit road during a caution period.
Busch and Bowman — who were running first and second at the time — stopped at Lap 322 only to get a warning from AJ Allmendinger, whose number 16 Chevy lost his wheel. The drivers restarted towards the end of the first lap and were able to race forward to score the Top 10 Finals.
Posing in pole position, Chris Bucher finished eighth—his third top 10 performance in RFK Racing Ford of the year and first in six races. Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick and Betty GMS Motorsports driver Eric Jones rounded out the top ten.
It was a rough day for former Dover winner Denny Hamlin, who led 67 laps and won the first stage, but faced two big steps that derailed on what looked like a promising day.
While driving the race, the left front Hamlin tire came off when it came off a pit road after a stop. It brought him back to 29th. He drove his #11 Toyota JGR all the way into the top five only to be collected by the #51 spinning Ford driven by Cody Weir just after the race half-point.
Damage to Toyota’s Hamlin eliminated any shot at Victory and he finished in 21st place. The permanent championship contender and three-time winner of the Daytona 500 has just one of the top 10 – a win in Richmond last month – of the season.
Elliott’s win gives him a 50-point lead over Ryan Blaney in the championship standings.
The next race for the Cup Series is the Goodyear 400, scheduled for Sunday (3:30 PM ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Darlington Raceway. All three National Series will operate during the annual NASCAR Throwback Weekend Celebrations.
note: No problems were found in NASCAR’s post-race check, confirming Elliott is the race winner.
Contribution: employee reports