Like father, like son.
The Elliotts become the latest multigenerational winners in NASCAR’s premier series, as Bill – who isn’t finished racing yet – picked up 44 Winston Cup victories, and his son Chase just joined him with his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series triumph in the Go Bowling at The Glen at Watkins Glen International, holding off the hard-charging defending champion Martin Truex Jr. an an intense conclusion to become the 17th Hendrick Motorsports driver to win a race for the organization.
Truex ran out of gas on the last lap, but held on for his runner-up finish of the season. Kyle Busch rallied from a late fuel problem on his planned final pit stop to finish third.
Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates were right behind him as Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones rounded out the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing, his CGR teammate Jamie McMurray, Elliott’s Hendrick teammate William Byron, Kyle’s older brother Kurt Busch for Stewart-Haas Racing and SHR’s Kevin Harvick.
In the first stage, Kyle Busch became the series all-time leader in road course laps led, but Truex stayed out during the first set of pit stops to gain stage points, and his seventh stage win of the season.
In the second stage, Elliott passed the No. 18 on the fourth lap under green and held it, taking Chevrolet’s sixth stage victory of 2018.
Five drivers led laps, and for the first time this season, not a single Ford was ever out front. 24 of the 37 cars finished on the lead lap.
Chase Elliott has qualified in the top 10 a dozen times this season, beginning third on Sunday. He’s finished in the top 10 in half of the 22 races this season. He’s won stages in the past three races, and finished no worse than 13th in the past month. He’s now locked into the playoffs with the race win, and with three straight top-10 wins with four regular-season races to go, the No. 9 team has momentum headed into the playoffs. Even better for the No. 9? Michigan is next, and Elliott has never finished worse than ninth there in five Cup starts.
This helps Hendrick Motorsports, too. Not only did it break the longest winless streak in team history and gave the team their 250th victory, it also made the playoff bubble a little more stable for Jimmie Johnson and the recently-extended Alex Bowman, who sit 102 and 62 points, respectively, ahead of 17th-place Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Also, as my Frontstretch colleague Frank Velat pointed out on Twitter, this was the first non-restrictor plate race since last fall at Phoenix that the No. 4, No. 14, No. 18 or No. 78 didn’t win. Elliott nearly got his first win that day,ultimately coming second to Matt Kenseth.
Jimmie Johnson just had an awful day. To begin with, his rearview mirror broke, and neither duct tape nor zip ties could fix it. Then while trying to repair the mirror on pit road, he got a penalty for crossing too many pit boxes. Finally, he smacked the back end of his car into the metal guardrail wall, which left with him a 30th-place finish, one lap down. It was his third finish in the thirties of 2018 according to Racing Reference, and the eighth time this year the No. 48 finished off the lead lap.
It was really great moment, though, to see him push Elliott’s out-of-gas Camaro ZL1 along the track during the victory lap.
Three JGR Toyotas finished in the top five for the second straight week, continuing what’s been a fantastic season. Suarez now has three top-5 and six top-10 finishes this season, Jones has a win, four top-fives and 11 top-10s, and Busch, of course, has six wins, 16 top-fives and 18 top-10s. Even Denny Hamlin, who finished 13th after battling pit-road penalties, had a good day, as he’s now mathematically locked into the playoffs on points.
There was some thought that a road-course race might turn around the season a little bit for Matt Kenseth and the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing team. But it didn’t turn out that way. Kenseth was a non-factor for much of the race before spinning out late and collecting a pit-road penalty, which meant he finished in 29th. Through eight races in 2018, his best finish is 15th at New Hampshire, and his average result is 22.5. The No. 6 team is 29th in the owner standings out of 36 chartered cars, nine points ahead of Germain Racing’s No. 13.
Kurt Busch started in the rear of the field after failing prerace inspection, but he powered through to finish ninth, his fourth race in a row finishing in the top 10. He has three poles to go along with 13 top-10s in 22 races, and he’s currently fourth in the standings, highest among winless drivers. If nothing changes, he’ll begin the playoffs as the No. 11 seed, based on NASCAR.com’s playoff standings, because two other winless drivers both have more playoff points than he does.
Joey Logano‘s race lasted all of one lap before damage (and some confusion about the crash-clock rule) ended his day way early with a last-place 37th. In three of the last five races he’s finished 26th or worse; this is the fourth time in the past five races that a Team Penske car has finished in the thirties, and the 11th Penske DNF this season.
Paint Scheme of the Week
This paint scheme is right up my alley. (Sorry. Couldn't resist. ?) Looking forward to racing the No. 10 @GoBowlingdotcom Ford at @WGI. Hope we can strike while the iron's hot & bring home a win. Hey, I'm on a roll. ? Got any more #GoBowling puns for me? #GoBowlingAtTheGlen pic.twitter.com/RCidXHltjx
— Aric Almirola (@Aric_Almirola) August 2, 2018
An Aric Almirola spin brought out the day’s first caution, and he only finished 22nd, but the No. 10 still makes this week’s Hot/Not based on his paint scheme this week. His SHR Fusion was wrapped in Go Bowling colors, which means white, red and several shades of tan in a somewhat cartoonish pattern, which was a nice change of pace. You could also view the bowling lane as a throwback of sorts to the side panels of station wagons, if you wished.
Plus it was a reminder that the activity of bowling exists, which is something we often forget about. (I label it an “activity” here because it certainly takes skill, and physical strength, but it doesn’t quite seem worthy of the label “sporting event,” even though the Professional Bowlers Association exists.) Also, they’re somewhat obvious puns, but Almirola gets bonus points for using so many in a row on this Twitter post.
The MENCS, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series all go to Michigan International Speedway this weekend.
I’m hesitantly calling that Chevy will make it two in a row, as either Elliott or Larson will capture the checkered flag. I say “hesitantly” because SHR dominated the earlier race at Michigan this summer.
The Consumers Energy 400 will be Sunday, August 12, at 2:30 p.m. ET, with TV coverage on NBCSN.
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