Chase Elliott works bottom line to win at Dover

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Historically, the bottom line on restarts is the kiss of death at Dover Motor Speedway. For the last 24 hours, however, Chase Elliott used it to conquer the Monster Mile.

On the final restart of the postponed by rain DuraMAX Drydene 400 with 53 laps to go, Elliott powered ahead of Ross Chastain into Turn 1, cleared him exiting Turn 2 and drove away to score his 14th career NASCAR Cup Series victory.

“Had some good circumstances finally,” he said. “Really appreciate Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and our entire team for just sticking with it. We’ve had some tough races over the last, I don’t know, four, five months. Just great to get NAPA back to Victory Lane, great to get Hendrick Motorsports back to Victory Lane.”

It’s Elliott’s first victory on an oval since Phoenix in 2020, a stretch of 46 races. As well as his second career victory at Dover.

“Just so proud. This one means a lot in a lot of different ways. Just appreciate all the effort. But thanks to all the fans for coming out. You’re always awesome. Hope to see this big crowd here next year. Just a huge thanks to everybody involved. It’s been a fun day and we’re certainly going to enjoy.

“Like I told them after the race, those guys, they’ve been deserving of one for a while. Glad we could get across the line first. We’ll enjoy it for a few days and go to work next week.”

What they said

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scored his best finish of the season with a runner-up finish. This comes after a stretch of 28th, 28th, 27th and 30th on tracks one mile or less, this season.

“I felt like we had a car capable of winning,” he said. “Obviously getting off pit road at different times. My pit crew did a great job keeping us up front all day. This feels good. Hopefully we can carry this momentum on. The big tracks, the tracks we’ve got coming forward, are really good tracks for us.

“That was a lot of fun. A lot of battling. It was tough to pass, but it was fun running through lap traffic. I really wish we had like a 70-lap run to end there.”

DOVER, Del. – MAY 2: Ross Chastain, driver of the #1 Pitbull Tour 2022 Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, race during the NASCAR Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne at Dover Motor Speedway on May 2, 2022, in Dover, Delaware. Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Ross Chastain rounded out the podium in third, after leading 86 of 400 laps.

“(I’m) super proud of this effort,” he said. “I thought we were a fifth-place car. A couple guys had misfortune with the cautions coming out. That cycled us to the lead. Pit crew was incredible today. They were just picking up spots every stop, got us the lead.

“I’m racing with champions and I got beat.”

Christopher Bell rebounded from an unscheduled stop on Lap 131 for a loose wheel to finish fourth and Alex Bowman rounded out the top-five.

Kyle LarsonKyle Busch (who led a race high of 103 laps), pole sitter Chris BuescherKevin Harvick and Erik Jones rounded out the top-10.

On the final lap, Martin Truex Jr. made contact with Chastain on the backstretch, spun into the inside wall and finished 20th.

Chase Elliott works bottom line to win at Dover

Race summary

Stage 1

Sunday
DOVER, Del. – MAY 1: Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, leads the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne at Dover Motor Speedway on May 1, 2022, in Dover, Delaware. Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Chris Buescher led the field to green, Sunday, at 3:13 p.m. Denny Hamlin spun his tires on the initial start, but reeled in Buescher, who got loose in the wake of another car in Turn 3 and slid up the track. Hamlin drove under him to take the lead on Lap 19. Kyle Larson caught him with five laps left until the competition caution, but couldn’t navigate through the lap traffic to take it before the caution on Lap 41.

Shortly after the Lap 46 restart, spotters and officials radioed in reports of rain. By Lap 67, the rain intensified and forced NASCAR to throw a caution. Larson, Chase ElliottRyan BlaneyChristopher BellMartin Truex Jr.Aric Almirola and William Byron elected not to pit under the caution.

By Lap 76, the field went through the Choose Rule procedure and was a lap from going back to green.

Then the rain grew heavier.

DOVER, Del. – MAY 1: The NASCAR Track Drying Team works to dry the track during a rain delay in the NASCAR Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne at Dover Motor Speedway on May 1, 2022, in Dover, Delaware. Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

On Lap 79, NASCAR brought the field down pit road and red-flagged the race. It sent the air titans out to dry the track, but to no avail. At 5:29, NASCAR postponed the rest of the DuraMAX Drydene 400 to Monday.

Monday
DOVER, Del. – MAY 2: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, and Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne at Dover Motor Speedway on May 2, 2022, in Dover, Delaware. Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

After a 20-hour, one minute and 52-second red flag, NASCAR race director Jusan Hamilton gave the word.

Larson led the field back to green at 12:07 p.m., Monday. After a two-car incident in Turn 4 on Lap 87 brought out a caution, Elliott, who chose the bottom line on the restart, powered by Larson into Turn 1 to take the lead on Lap 93. Just as he did, Sunday, Hamlin reeled in Elliott on Lap 105 and spent several laps setting him up for the overtake.

On Lap 113, Hamlin got inside Elliott to complete the overtake for the race lead and won the first stage.

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During the first stage break, Hamlin exited pit road with the lead, but lost his left-front tire in the process. He dropped to the tail-end of the field and handed the lead to Ross Chastain.

Stage 2

DOVER, Del. – MAY 2: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and Justin Haley, driver of the #31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne at Dover Motor Speedway on May 2, 2022, in Dover, Delaware. Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Back to green on Lap 128, he led the next 67 laps, before pitting under the Lap 189 caution. Justin Haley elected to stay out and assumed the race lead.

Haley held off cars with fresher tires for 18 laps, before Alex Bowman got to his inside in Turn 3 to take the lead on Lap 211. Kyle Busch followed suite two laps later in Turn 1.

Coming off Turn 4 on Lap 241, Cody Ware got loose and hit the wall. He drifted down the track and clipped Hamlin. During the ensuing caution, Blaney stayed out to take the lead. He held off Busch on four new tires for three laps to win the second stage.

He pitted during the second stage break and Busch cycled back to the lead.

Setup for the finish

The field ran the next 68 laps caution-free. Allmendinger kicked off what would’ve been the final cycle of pit stops with 79 laps to go. Busch pitted from the lead with 78 to go, just as Allmendinger’s right-front tire came off in Turn 2, went up and down the track, in between full speed cars.

Thankfully, nobody hit it.

Chastain beat Truex off pit road to retake the race lead.

DOVER, Del. – MAY 2: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and Ross Chastain, driver of the #1 Pitbull Tour 2022 Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne at Dover Motor Speedway on May 2, 2022, in Dover, Delaware. Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

After Daniel Suarez‘s spin in Turn 3 brought out a caution on Lap 334, Elliott raced side-by-side with Chastain for three laps. Elliott edged him at the line to lead Lap 342, while Chastain edged him out at the scoring loop in Turn 3. Just as Tyler Reddick spun down the backstretch and brought out a caution and set up the run to the finish.

Chase Elliott works bottom line to win at Dover

What else happened

As mentioned earlier, the biggest incident of the race came on Lap 241, when Ware got loose of Turn 4, hit the wall drifted down the track and clipped Hamlin. Who had just worked his way from the rear of the field up to fourth. He was trapped a lap down and finished 21st.

DOVER, Del. – MAY 2: Kurt Busch, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, spins into the wall after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne at Dover Motor Speedway on May 2, 2022, in Dover, Delaware. Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

On Lap 189, Kurt Busch got loose off Turn 2 and hit the inside wall.

Chase Elliott works bottom line to win at Dover

Nuts and bolts

DOVER, Del. – MAY 2: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout as he crew cheer from the wall after winning the NASCAR Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne at Dover Motor Speedway on May 2, 2022, in Dover, Delaware. Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The race lasted three hours, 49 minutes and 39 seconds, at an average speed of 104.507 mph. There were 17 lead changes among 10 different drivers, and 13 cautions for 75 laps.

Elliott leaves Dover with a 50-point lead over Blaney.

TOP IMAGE: Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images