Elliott Holds Off Hamlin to Win First Cup Race at Daytona Road Course

Elliott holds off Hamlin to win the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling 235 on the series' inaugural race on the Daytona Road Course at Daytona International Speedway.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – AUGUST 16: Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling 235 at Daytona International Speedway on August 16, 2020, in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Elliott holds off Hamlin to win the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling 235 on the series’ inaugural race on the Daytona Road Course at Daytona International Speedway.

No practice, no qualifying, new course. No problem for Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott.

The 24-year old Elliott gave a not-so-subtle reminder Sunday afternoon in the NASCAR Cup Series debut on the Daytona International Speedway Road Course that he is one of the sport’s very best on the technical road circuits, even sight unseen as was the case this week.

Elliott Holds Off Hamlin

Just before a caution flag with five laps remaining, Elliott had pulled out to a ten-second advantage on the field. He turned in a fantastic restart and drove three perfect final laps in his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to ultimately hold off Denny Hamlin by 0.202-second to win the Go Bowling 235. It is Elliott’s third consecutive road course win dating back to last year.

“Just had a really good car more than anything, not sure I did anything special today,” a humble Elliott said. “Really fortunate from that standpoint. Had a good week of preparation and came out and really executed on the race.”’

Elliott said he was hardly surprised about the late-race restart and prepared for it.

“To me was not when, but how many green-white checkers we were going to have to do in a row and being better at executing those,” Elliott said. “Any win at Daytona is special. [Crew chief] Alan [Gustafson] and I were joking that we had to change it to a road course to win at Daytona. … Just a great day.”

And a finely executed race for Elliott to better the sport’s best road course drivers.

The Top-Ten

Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. finished third followed by seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and Chris Buescher. Clint Bowyer, Kaz Grala (who was substituting for Austin Dillon in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet), William Byron, Joey Logano, and Michael McDowell completed the top-ten in a race so smooth and expertly handled that it more closely resembled an age-old venue than the first-time visit on a challenging 3.61-mile, 14-turn course.

“Let’s make sure we don’t look like a bunch of dummies there in turn one,” Hamlin said of a pre-race conversation with fellow drivers about the new venue. “We made sure we kept it clean to start and then you can get your bearings about you after you run a few laps. Really, it’s one of those tracks where it’s not super technical but it definitely rewards the guys that do the right techniques on road courses.”

The Inaugural NASCAR Cup Series Race on the Daytona Road Course

The veteran NASCAR Cup Series drivers immediately put on a driving display that seemed as if they had long raced on the circuit – which includes a tight infield road course as well as Daytona International Speedway’s more famous high-banked turns.

Elliott has proven himself a road course favorite even though he’s only in his fifth full-time season. He led the most laps – 34 of the 65 – and won the first stage on Sunday with Hamlin winning the second stage. Outside of regular pit stops, Elliott was either leading or about to lead all afternoon resulting in Elliott’s eighth career win and second of the season – matching a victory in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I just wanted to keep him honest and it seemed like the closer we got the more his car was either wheel-hopping or sliding the front tires, so we were at least keeping him honest there to make him push his car and earn the victory,” said Hamlin, a five-race winner in 2020 and driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

The NASCAR Cup Series Point Standings

Championship points leader and six-race winner Kevin Harvick had an eventful day in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford – contact with another car while running near the front and then another spin later in the race. He finished 17th but still leads the championship by 118 points over Hamlin.

Only three races remain to set the 16-driver NASCAR Cup Series Playoff field. Byron is in the 16th position with a 25-point edge over his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Johnson and a 35-point advantage over 18th place Erik Jones with a doubleheader weekend scheduled next week on the one-mile Dover (Del.) International Speedway before the series returns to the Daytona 2.5-mile superspeedway for the regular season finale.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – Go Bowling 235 at the Daytona Road Course

Daytona International Speedway Road Course

Daytona Beach, Florida

Sunday, August 16, 2020

               1. (7)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 65.

               2. (2)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 65.

               3. (3)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 65.

               4. (11)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 65.

               5. (21)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 65.

               6. (12)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 65.

               7. (10)  Kaz Grala(i), Chevrolet, 65.

               8. (13)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 65.

               9. (5)  Joey Logano, Ford, 65.

               10. (30)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 65.

               11. (20)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 65.

               12. (27)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 65.

               13. (17)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 65.

               14. (8)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 65.

               15. (9)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 65.

               16. (25)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 65.

               17. (1)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 65.

               18. (18)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 65.

               19. (14)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 65.

               20. (23)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 65.

               21. (15)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 65.

               22. (26)  Cole Custer #, Ford, 65.

               23. (22)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 65.

               24. (6)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 65.

               25. (19)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 65.

               26. (16)  Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, 65.

               27. (31)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 65.

               28. (33)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 65.

               29. (37)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 65.

               30. (38)  James Davison, Ford, 65.

               31. (24)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 65.

               32. (29)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 65.

               33. (35)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, 64.

               34. (32)  JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 64.

               35. (28)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, Accident, 62.

               36. (36)  Garrett Smithley(i), Ford, Battery, 60.

               37. (4)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 53.

               38. (34)  Stanton Barrett, Chevrolet, 49.

               39. (39)  Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, Transmission, 46.

The Go Bowling 235 Stats

Average Speed of Race Winner:  89.39 mph.

Time of Race:  Two Hrs, 37 Mins, 30 Secs. The Margin of Victory:  0.202 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  Four for seven laps.

Lead Changes:  13 among six drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Harvick 0;D. Hamlin 1;K. Busch 2;D. Hamlin 3-9;M. Truex Jr. 10-12;C. Elliott 13-16;J. Logano 17;D. Hamlin 18-21;M. Truex Jr. 22-27;D. Hamlin 28-31;C. Elliott 32-48;M. Truex Jr. 49;K. Grala(i) 50-52;C. Elliott 53-65.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Chase Elliott three times for 34 laps; Denny Hamlin four times for 16 laps; Martin Truex Jr. three times for ten laps; Kaz Grala(i) one time for three laps; Joey Logano one time for one lap; Kyle Busch one time for one lap.

Stage 1 Top-Ten: 9,22,48,14,21,20,24,19,41,37

Stage 2 Top-Ten: 11,14,12,24,47,37,9,4,1,32

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