NASCAR’s Chase Elliott goes back-to-back at Watkins Glen | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

NASCAR’s Chase Elliott goes back-to-back at Watkins Glen

Associated Press
1499705_web1_1499705-a43e80261b674c8bb4cc3a02a6e6965c
AP
Chase Elliott celebrates his victory with his pit crew after winning a NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday at Watkins Glen International.
1499705_web1_1499705-79d016686e8047009bfa73e39d37c090
AP
Chase Elliott leads the field thought the area known as “The Bus Stop” during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Watkins Glen International, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Watkins Glen, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Munson)

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Chase Elliott put an emphatic end to his summer-long struggle, making a statement with a dominating win on the road course at Watkins Glen International.

A year after racing to his first career NASCAR Cup victory at The Glen, Elliott won a second time in the No. 9 for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday, besting Martin Truex Jr. just as he did a year ago. Elliott, who started from the pole, led 80 of 90 laps around the speedy 2.45-mile layout to become the first repeat winner in nearly a decade, since Marcos Ambrose in 2011-12.

“I think it’s huge,” Elliott said. “We’ve had fast cars at times, but one thing or another ended up for a bad weekend. The way we did it was the biggest thing. That’s the kind of effort you have to put on often to compete with the guys in the field.”

Elliott already had qualified for the postseason with his win at Talladega in May, but after four straight top-fives, he hadn’t had a top-10 finish in the No. 9 Chevrolet since June at Pocono, a span of seven races. He also led 400 laps in the opening 13 races but had led only nine laps since until Sunday.

It was a two-car race for more than half the 220 1/2-mile distance and the entire final 40 laps.

Truex began to exert some pressure after sitting behind Elliott for more than 10 laps in the final segment. Elliott held his ground until Truex’s No 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota closed with six laps to go, waiting to pounce on a mistake that never came.

“I tried to do all I could. Chase did an excellent job just not making mistakes. He hit his marks. His car was really fast in the key areas that you need to be. I just couldn’t get a run on him.

“Really, it was all about restarts and track position,” Truex said. “If I could have just got by him on that last one we could have set sail.”

With two laps left, Truex still couldn’t get close enough to make a move as Elliott drove flawlessly, winning by 0.454 seconds.

Denny Hamlin was third, Erik Jones fourth for Gibbs and Ryan Blaney fifth in his No. 22 Penske Racing Ford after starting from the rear of the field.

Seven-time champion Jimmy Johnson finished 19th as he struggles to make the playoffs.

Truex was chasing a sweep of the two traditional road races on the schedule. He won at Sonoma in June for the second straight time and has five straight top-two finishes on road courses.

Elliott won the first two stages, dominating the first, and Truex moved into contention about a third of the way through the race.

Truex began to challenge Elliott for the lead entering the first turn on Lap 55, moving briefly inside on the 90-degree, downhill right-hander but backed off to wait for another shot. They were alone at the front of the field, 12 seconds ahead when Elliott dived to pit road on Lap 60 for his final stop. Truex followed suit the next time around and was back behind Elliott, a bit farther back this time.

Truex stayed back but like last year began to close the gap with 20 laps left. Elliott, who overcame some mistakes in the closing laps a year ago that nearly opened the door for Truex, maintained a steady lead of just a few car-lengths ahead for almost the entire stage, the two 5 seconds ahead of Hamlin in third.

The race was stopped when Johnson, desperate for a good finish, spun out coming out of the carousel turn, a sweeping right-hander, and seconds later Bubba Wallace spun Kyle Busch, who was running 10th on Lap 62. Busch and Wallace had banged each other while racing down the front straightaway before Wallace had the last tap, sending Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota around entering the first turn. Busch, who started third, finished 11th.

Elliott and Truex were back in front for the restart on Lap 66, but Truex challenged right off the green flag, the two exchanging bumps speeding up through the esses as Elliott never relinquished the lead despite damage to the left rear of his Chevy.

“I think the left rear damage was the biggest concern,” Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson said. “It was pretty significant. There’s nothing you can do. There’s no reason to panic. We’d done the best job we could. I knew it was up to Chase. Chase was going to have to run a perfect race and he did.”

Categories: Sports | US-World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.