NASCAR couldn’t race at Watkins Glen but that was okay for Chase Elliott. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NASCAR decided to race at the Daytona Road Course. It may have been a new track but last year’s Glen winner took the checkered flag at the first ever NASCAR Cup Series race on the road course at the “World Center of Speed.”
Woo, what a finish!
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) August 16, 2020
Many people were concerned about things being a cluster…(you know what) because no one raced a stock car on the Daytona Road Course and there was no practice or qualifying. That’s an understandable concern but it seemed to have the opposite effect. Because there was no practice or qualifying on a new track, drivers were almost overly cautious at first, feeling their way around for the braking points and making sure they didn’t lose the race on Lap 1.
Well, everyone but Kyle Busch got that message.
Busch is an aggressive racer and usually that’s rewarded, but it didn’t help today. Early on, Busch slid in the new chicane coming off Turn 4 of the oval and flat spotted his tires, forcing him to pit. Then in Stage 2, Busch clipped the curb coming out of the infield portion and spun. He overcame all that and was in 2nd entering the final pit stop, but had a brake rotor problem and fell out of contention.
In fact, you could say most of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars had some sort of problem. Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. were fighting for the lead and they made contact, resulting in Hamlin having a tire rub and being forced to pit. Truex tried to pit right before the end of Stage 2 to get back up front but was too fast exiting the pit, negating that advantage.
A short lightning delay right after Stage 2 reset things but when things restarted, it was all Elliott. At one time, he was ahead by over 10 seconds and was well on his way to victory. Even after a late caution for Kyle Busch, Elliott kept the lead and held off Hamlin for his third consecutive road course victory.
Adding six playoff points to his name, Elliott is now up to 4th in terms of regular season points and his position if the playoffs started today. With three races left, Elliott is solidly in the playoffs and it’s all about adding more playoff points as NASCAR enters the Dover doubleheader and a return to Daytona for the oval.