Elliott wins as wheels fall off Harvick’s double
For more than three quarters of the NASCAR Cup race at Dover, Kevin Harvick looked nailed on to win at the venue for the second time this year as Stewart-haas Racing dominated the top four.
Instead, when the chequered flag fell it was Hendrick Motorsports’
Chase Elliott moving himself into the round-of-eight stage of the playoffs and celebrating victory.
It was Elliott’s second Cup career win – the first was two months ago at Watkins Glen – and one that looked highly unlikely until the final laps.
Harvick dominated the first stage and lapped more than half of the field after passing polesitter Kyle Busch on lap 16 of 400. He also finished stage two in first place, although he had team-mate Clint Bowyer on his tail.
The Stewart-haas Racing Ford Fusions covered the top four positions until lap 321, when Harvick had a loose wheel following a routine pitstop.
He went a lap down, but received a free pass on lap 338 from the first unplanned caution and eventually recovered to finish sixth.
Team-mate Aric Almirola then led the field until the penultimate caution came out with eight laps to go after Bowyer hit the wall.
Along with Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr, Elliott decided not to pit so that he could gain track position.
While Elliott restarted well,
Almirola hit the back of Keselowski, with Truex and Alex Bowman caught up in the crash. Elliott went on to win the race in overtime from Denny Hamlin’s Toyota Camry.
“This was a lot about perseverance,” said Elliott. “We had a penalty early and fell behind and luckily had a good enough car and good strategy to get back [to the front].”
Elliott celebrated his victory in smoky style
Pitstop error denied Harvick Dover double