Chase Elliott Wins At Dover On Old Tires To Advance To The Round Of 8 In The Playoffs

by October 7, 2018 0 comments

DOVER, Del. – Chase Elliott got the advantage over Denny Hamlin on a NASCAR Overtime restart to win the Gander Outdoors 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday. The win also advances Elliott into the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs.

Elliott only led the final 11 laps of Sunday’s 404-lap race to capture his second-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win. The driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet took over the lead after crew chief Alan Gustafson kept the 22-year-old on the track during the final round of pit stops.

“Well, I really thought it was the right move to be honest with you I was shocked those other guys pitted with that few laps left,” Elliott said about the strategy to not pit in the closing laps. “I just knew if we had a bunch of cautions it was going to be hard to hold those guys off if they kept leap frogging forward. Just a great effort, a lot of perseverance today, had a penalty there at the beginning, fell back and was able to climb back forward and ultimately move on.”

Elliott will now advance to the Round of 8 and not have to worry so much about the upcoming, unpredictable race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“Yeah, I think just being able to move on and not have to worry about Talladega, so excited to be able to win the first one of three and get to enjoy it a little bit more,” Elliott said. “Ultimately, we can get some more Playoff points next week and also at Kansas. We are going to keep the hammer down and see what we can do.”

Hamlin, who was eliminated from the NASCAR Playoffs in the Round of 16 finished second in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota. The runner-up finish comes as a sigh of relief after finishing 12th at the Charlotte ROVAL, 16th at Richmond and 32nd in Las Vegas. While Hamlin didn’t have anything for Elliott in NASCAR Overtime, he was very pleased with his team’s efforts.

“I didn’t think so,” said Hamlin on having anything for Elliott on the final restart. “We ran a 23.70 on that last lap. On older tires, that’s amazing. I ran as hard as I could through (Turns) 1 and 2. Then through (Turns) 3 and 4, I couldn’t get beside him there. I am proud of the whole FedEx team. Definitely a good start in the right direction. We chipped away at it all day as we moved up through the field. This is where we deserved. I am proud of this finish and we’ll move on to the next race.”

A two-tire call on the final pit stop and a red flag helped Joey Logano capture a third-place finish. The driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford was lucky to get a top-five finish after hitting an axle that was bouncing through Turns 3 and 4.

“When you hit an axle that’s a big piece that can do some real, real damage,” Logano said. “It could hurt the driver in all honesty, so I’m glad we got through that and fixed our damage and got a good finish.  Right at the end there the two-tire call was good and on that restart we were able to make so many passes and then they crashed, so that set us up pretty good.  I honestly thought I had a really good shot at winning it, but just came up a little short. I didn’t think the 9 could possibly win that race on old tires like that, but I think that red flag really helped him cool them off.”

Erik Jones and Kurt Busch finished fourth and fifth respectively. Kevin Harvick won Stages 1 and 2 as he led a race high of 286 laps; however, he finished sixth. Rounding out the top-10 were Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Daniel Suarez.

During the Gander Outdoors 400, there were two cautions for accidents.

Clint Bowyer was on his way to have a competitive finish, but after pitting for a possible loose tire, his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Haas VF1/Rush Truck Centers Ford unexpectedly pounded the outside wall in Turn 3 due to some sort of failure. The NASCAR Playoff contender finished an extremely disappointing 35th.

“We broke and I hit the wall,” Bowyer said. “I’m just really disappointed. I’m frustrated with our day, obviously, we had a very fast race car. I got tore up passing a lapper and then all of a sudden we had a loose wheel, I think it was a loose wheel, and then we went back out and broke something in the front end and it was two different things. When we pitted it was something in the rear, obviously, the right-rear, the left-rear was loose, it was all out of control, and then all of a sudden we went back out it was fine, so I took back off and then I think something in the left-front broke, it just went straight – whether I ran over something, I don’t know.”

A crash on lap 398 took out several NASCAR Playoff contenders and set the field up for a NASCAR Overtime finish. While trying to stay up front and battle for the win, Aric Almirola got into the outside wall exiting Turn 2 and ricocheted into Brad Keselowski. The two drivers crashed down the backstretch, collecting Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman and Ryan Blaney. The red flag was displayed for nearly five minutes.

Following Dover, the four drivers below the Round of 8 cutline are Almirola (-10), Bowyer (-10), Kyle Larson (-12) and Bowman (-34).

The drivers above the cutline include Elliott, Harvick (+68), Kyle Busch (+63), Truex Jr. (+36), Logano (+31), Kurt Busch (+21), Keselowski (+21) and Ryan Blaney (+10).

The 500 at Talladega Superspeedway will broadcast live on NBC and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 14.

Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

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