Second-generation NASCAR driver Chase Elliott on Sunday received the most important race of his life—rallying from having to drop to the rear of the sector throughout the preliminary tempo laps to cross the Phoenix Raceway end line first within the Sequence Finale 500—incomes his first profession NASCAR Cup Sequence championship on the age of 24. The outcome made Hendrick Motorsports driver Elliott the youngest champion in NASCAR’s premier sequence in 25 years.
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Finally, Elliott received by 2.74 seconds over fellow title contender Brad Keselowski from Crew Penske. Crew Penske’s Joey Logano was third and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin completed fourth.
Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, 45, was fifth in his ultimate race as a full-time Cup Sequence driver, and he congratulated his younger Hendrick Motorsports teammate Elliott on-track and afterward pit lane—a becoming image of the game’s “altering of the guard.”
“Superior, superior, superior,” Elliott screamed into his staff radio after taking the checkered flag. “We’re the champions!”
Three of the 4 title contenders led laps on the 1-mile desert oval. Logano led 125 laps and Keselowski led 16 laps, however Elliott’s 153 laps within the lead have been indicative of his motivation, expertise, and the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet staff’s preparedness for this race. He solely earned his place within the four-driver championship subject with a clutch victory final week at Martinsville Speedway, and he made probably the most of that work on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.
Elliott wrestled the lead away from Logano for good with 43 laps remaining within the 312-lap affair. It was the results of a decided driver and staff after the automotive failed pre-race inspection a number of occasions Sunday morning and needed to begin final within the 39-car subject.
Elliott’s focus was evident, nonetheless, from the drop of the inexperienced flag. His Chevrolet was 15th by Lap 15. He took the lead for the primary time at Lap 79 and led eight completely different occasions on the afternoon.
As soon as Elliott rallied to the entrance, the 4 title contenders have been predominantly the highest 4 drivers on observe the rest of the race—really settling the championship amongst themselves.
“Clearly, if you don’t win it hurts, it positively stings,” Logano mentioned. “I advised the blokes earlier than the race, you may’t lose. You both win otherwise you get stronger. Sadly, we received stronger at the moment.”
With this championship, Elliott and his father Invoice (the 1988 sequence champion) grew to become solely the third father-son NASCAR Cup Sequence championship mixture within the sport’s historical past, becoming a member of Lee and Richard Petty and Ned and Dale Jarrett. Elliott’s father stood trackside for the race and joked afterward that he had given his son some easy recommendation for the massive day—recommendation Chase readily admits went by his head as he challenged for the life-changing trophy.
“He advised me, ‘All you must do is beat three individuals,’” a smiling Elliott mentioned of his father’s pre-race recommendation. “He mentioned all week he felt assured that we may come out right here and do that. And he was proper.
“This can be a second I’ve dreamed about. That is all I’ve needed to do is be a race automotive driver and race in NASCAR. To be trustworthy, I’m humbled.”
Elliott’s good pal Ryan Blaney completed sixth, adopted by regular-season champion Kevin Harvick, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, and Martin Truex Jr.
Clint Bowyer, who’s shifting to the Fox tv sales space, and former sequence champion Matt Kenseth, who’s returning to retirement, completed 14th and 25th, respectively, of their ultimate race. Crew chief Chad Knaus, on the helm for Johnson’s seven titles, led Hendrick driver Byron to that ninth-place exhibiting.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer, who certified for the playoffs with a victory at Kentucky Speedway this summer season, completed 28th, formally wrapping up the 2020 Sunoco Rookie of the 12 months honors.
“I’m perplexed, that is unbelievable,” Elliott mentioned. “Oh, my gosh. We did it. I imply, we did it. That’s all I’ve received to inform you. Unreal.
“Crew chief, Alan Gustafson, is now a NASCAR Cup Sequence champion, and really deserving. I simply can’t say sufficient about our group. I felt like we took some actually large strides this 12 months, and final week was an enormous one. To return out of that with a win and a shot to come back right here and have an opportunity to race is unbelievable. Heck, I don’t know. I don’t even know. That is unreal.”
The NASCAR Cup Sequence’ subsequent race is the 2021 Daytona 500, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 14—solely 98 days away.
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