CHASE ELLIOTT REPEATS AT WATKINS GLEN
Chase Elliott has been looking forward to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series return to Watkins Glen for the chance at a repeat all season and when it came back around, he wasted no time picking up where he left off.
Elliott began the weekend winning the pole which put him in a great situation for the start as his teammate, William Byron, started second and wouldn’t fight too hard for the lead at the start. Chase got out ahead to a comfy lead and began to pull away from Byron, who got dive bombed by Kyle Busch going into turn one on lap two, which resulted in Busch spinning out but not bringing out the caution as everyone avoided him, and he got back going and only fell back to tenth. Little did Busch know that the spin was only the start of a very long day. Denny Hamlin picked up second after forcing Byron into the grass at the bus stop in a move that nearly wrecked them both.
Meanwhile, Elliott would get to over a six second lead to essentially cruise to the first stage win. Under caution, Byron drove into the back of Kyle Busch as payback after being shoved into the grass late into the stage by Busch. Busch retaliated by brake checking Byron; resulting in heavy damage to the front end and effectively ending what was a good start to the day.
Kyle Larson got the lead for the stage two, as he was the only driver to stay out, with Kevin Harvick starting second due to pitting early. Larson would get out ahead while Daniel Suarez and Parker Kligerman would collide going into the bus stop and Kligerman would slide out into the asphalt; no caution once again. Elliott got back to second and then took the lead over again after Larson had to pit and continued to do so until a caution came out for Reed Sorenson laying fluid on a majority of the track. After a lengthy clean up, Elliott had to hold off a hard charging Martin Truex Jr who had begun to make up quite time with each lap. The run was stopped short as Bubba Wallace brought out the caution after getting into the tires on the carousel after some help from Kyle Busch; the stage would end under caution with Elliott winning again.
Elliot stayed out for the start of stage three and pulled away to a good lead again. Another almost caution as Daniel Hemric and Ty Dillon go flying into the bus stop with Hemric being sent into the wall, but he was able to keep moving to keep it green. Truex pulled a risky move to three-wide by Ty Dillon and Elliott to try and grab the lead going into turn six but it was unsuccessful. Chase then went on to pit a lap earlier than Truex which put him ahead for when the green flag stops would cycle out. The stops wouldn’t cycle out though as caution came out for Jimmie Johnson who got spun by Ryan Blaney into the carousel at the same time Bubba and Kyle Busch were door slamming each other on the front stretch, with Bubba getting tired of it and spinning Busch out into turn one. Chase took over once again after the caution and had to hold off Truex much more aggressively this time as the two kept running into each other up through the esses. Austin Dillon would get turned by Ryan Newman going into one and again no caution as he was able to keep moving.
Meanwhile, up front it was like last year’s race all over again; Elliott and Truex were the class of the field and started to leave everyone behind with Truex reeling in for the lead with ten to go. For the last ten laps, Truex tried everything he could to get by Elliott but a combination of Elliott hitting every mark perfectly and dirty air holding him back he could as Elliott repeated and picked up the win. The win is Elliot’s second Cup win this year and his fifth overall.