Race Weekend Central

Chase Elliott Earns 1st Cup Victory at Watkins Glen

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott was the beneficiary of a pit road screw-up for Kyle Busch under caution.  That gave Elliott the lead with 34 laps to go. Elliott then ran a hard-charging Martin Truex Jr. out of fuel on the final lap to win Sunday’s (Aug. 5) Go Bowling at the Glen.

It is Elliott’s first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in his 99th career start. For Hendrick Motorsports, it is its 250th Cup victory. It is also the first victory for Chevrolet in a non-restrictor plate race since Kyle Larson at Richmond Raceway 11 months ago.

“Holy cow! What a thrill,” Elliott said on the frontstretch after the race. “I have… so much relief.  I was working on three years and hadn’t won one. I came here with a great opportunity today, and I was able to get it done.”

While Elliott claimed the spoils, Kyle Busch was the class of the field for much of the race. Starting second, Busch immediately pounced on teammate Denny Hamlin. While Hamlin was able to hold Busch back at first, it was only a matter of time before the No. 18 was able to get past him. On the second lap of the race, Busch passed Hamlin and never looked back.

For Joey Logano, his race was over before it really started. On the second lap of the race, Logano ran in the back of Larson and busted the radiator on his Shell/Pennzoil Ford. That hit put Logano out on the spot. A spin for Aric Almirola into the wall in Turn 11 brought out an early caution.

Ultimately, pit strategy was the name of the game on Sunday. Busch led convincingly early on, but chose to pit on Lap 18 prior to the end of stage one. That gave Truex the stage victory, but positioned Busch to re-take the lead once everyone in front in him pitted during the stage break.

It was a non-stage break caution that turned the race upside-down. With 36 laps to go, Matt DiBenedetto stopped in the Inner Loop with fluids coming out of his ZyngaPoker Ford. That brought the field to pit road for its final stops.

Busch managed to get off of pit road first, but there was a fueling issue with the car. With a full tank necessary to make it to the finish, only eight gallons made it into the No. 18 M&M’s Crunchy Mint Toyota. With no way to make it to the end, Busch was forced to make an extra pit stop for fuel.

The extra stop gave Elliott the lead with Austin Dillon second after stopping for fuel-only. On the restart, Truex was able to jump Dillon into second. Together, Elliott and Truex pulled out a massive lead on the pack in order to settle things for themselves.

Elliott opened a decent lead over the No. 78 before Truex slowly began to reel him in. In the final 10 laps, Truex was right there, but Elliott was able to open up a small gap when Truex approached.

Truex seemed to burble with a couple of laps to go, allowing Elliott to open up the advantage. Then, Elliott wheel-hopped entering Turn 1 on the final lap, allowing Truex to get right back up to Elliott’s bumper. Elliott then managed to pull away through the Esses, and on the straightaway between Turns 9 and 10, Truex ran out of fuel.

That was all Elliott needed to solidify his victory.

Truex was able to maintain second place while coasting to the line, but he ended up 7.56 seconds behind Elliott. Busch completed his charge with a hard-fought third-place finish. Teammates Daniel Suárez and Erik Jones were fourth and fifth.


Busch’s third-place finish and Kevin Harvick‘s mediocre day in 10th means that Busch’s points lead is now up to 70 points with four races remaining in the regular season.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next weekend at Michigan International Speedway for the Consumers Energy 400.

About the author

2021 Phil Allaway Headshot Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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