Chase Elliott held off Denny Hamlin in an overtime finish to win Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 at Dover International Speedway, which advances him to the Round of 8.
Elliott came back from an early race uncontrolled tire penalty on lap 122 to score his second win of the season and of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
“We had a penalty early and fell behind, luckily had a good enough car and strategy to get back,” Elliott said. “What a day, thanks to those guys, that man right there (Rick Hendrick), he’s done so much for me. Wish my mom and dad were here, but it’s been a hell of a day for me.”
The win was a bit of redemption for Elliott, who was leading at Dover a year ago until Kyle Busch took the top spot a lap from the finish.
“Definitely makes it sweeter for sure,” Elliott said.
Hamlin, Joey Logano, Erik Jones and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five.
“After last fall,” said Hamlin, referencing the duo’s Martinsville contact. “I was really sure to try and not make any contact, to be honest with you.”
Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Daniel Suarez completed the first 10 finishers.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday afternoon.
How Elliott Won: A multi-car crash that started when Aric Almirola hit the wall and slid in front of Brad Keselowski forced officials to red flag the race for clean-up. Once the overtime was engaged, Elliott – who did not pit for fresh tires on the prior caution flag – got the jump at the drop of the green flag over Hamlin and was able to hold the top spot for the final two circuits to score his second win of the season.
Who Had a Good Day: Hamlin’s second-place finish was his best finish of the season…Logano scored only his fourth top-five Dover finish in 20 career starts…Kurt Busch has finished top 10 in 10 of the last 12 races of 2018.
Who Had a Bad Day: Kevin Harvick dominated the race winning the first two stages (Stage Points), but a broken valve stem on a late pit stop changing tires cost him the top spot when he had to come back to pit road…Both Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were also penalized for pit road speeding penalties…Any momentum Jimmie Johnson had hoped to bring with him to Dover after his near-miss win last week at Charlotte’s Roval was over before the green flag flew. Johnson came to the garage during parade laps with a lower ball joint failure that took him immediately from contention for a 12th career Dover win…Clint Bowyer had a loose wheel with 18 to go to take him from contention but things got worse when he came back on track and hit the wall to bring out the caution flag…Almirola, Keselowski, Alex Bowman and Truex Jr., all got caught up in the last accident that caused the red flag and overtime finish.
What Else Happened: It was a tale of two races. Kevin Harvick’s utter domination in the first two thirds and then everything after he had problems on pit road and was forced to play catch-up. When Harvick was in command the day was turning into a forgettable affair for most anyone outside of fervent No. 4 fans but the last 100 laps, aided by the drama of the playoffs, generated much more on track intensity and aggressiveness.
Quotable: “How many more times this year can this happen?” – Aric Almirola
Notables: Kevin Harvick led a race-high 286 laps…Elliott scored the 251st Hendrick Motorsports’ 251st victory…Elliott has finished in the top five in five of his six Dover starts.