The Evening Leader
Elliott gets Cup victory at Dover
DOVER, Del. — Chase Elliott had a frontrow seat for the Hendrick Motorsports trophy celebrations and photo shoots and all the kitschy social media posts created as one by one — and as his three teammates won, and won and won again — they all brought home checkered flags.
Elliott rarely needs a motivational nudge to park his Chevy in victory lane, so while he felt happy for the drivers, he didn’t necessarily use their successes as a means to create artificial fire to try to match them.
“My drive to win and my job to do my job to the best of my ability doesn’t change whether we are struggling, whether are we doing very good, whether I’m in a contract year or not, whether my teammates have won and I haven’t,” Elliott said.
He drove to the best of his ability again Monday at Dover Motor Speedway and earned his first victory of the season, making Hendrick Motorsports drivers 4 for 4 in the win column this season. It’s barely May and Elliott, Kyle Larson, William Byron and Alex Bowman already are locked into the playoffs.
The summer run will be a tuneup for the 10race shootout.
There’s a new car this season in NASCAR — and the same old results for Hendrick at Dover.
Elliott snapped a 26race winless streak when the 2020 NASCAR champion led the final 53 laps to win his 14th career Cup race.
He gave team owner Rick Hendrick another triumph on the mile concrete track. Elliott followed Bowman’s checkered flag a year ago as a Hendrick driver won for the 22nd time at Dover. Hendrick swept the top four spots last season; this one clinched the four playoff spots.
Elliott, who leads the points standings, hopped on the window ledge of his No. 9 Chevrolet and pointed in appreciation toward a solid crowd for a weekday race. The finish was delayed a day because of rain.
“We just had some good circumstances, finally,” Elliott said. “We’ve had some tough races over the last four, five months. This one means a lot in so many different ways. Hope to see this big crowd here next year.”
His last win was July 4 at Road America.
Even without a win, Elliott had been building toward this moment. The 2020 NASCAR champion and reigning most popular driver, Elliott took a steady pace while his teammates burst out of the gate with early season wins; Byron already has two wins. Elliott has only one finish worse than 14th this season and rolled into Dover with three straight top-10 finishes.