Chase Elliott entered the weekend as the championship points leader, despite not having won a race this season. One of those things changed today as the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet led the final 53 laps at Dover to capture the 14th victory of his career.
Elliott helped make history along the way, becoming the fourth Hendrick Motorsports driver to win a race this season. It is the first time in NASCAR history a team has had all four of its drivers win races in the opening 11 races of a season. The 26-year old cruised to a 2.577 second margin of victory to extend his lead in the championship.
"Just had some good circumstances finally," Elliott said. "Just really appreciate Alan Gustafson and our entire team for just sticking with it. We had some tough races over the last four or five months and just great to get NAPA back to victory lane and great to get Hendrick Motorsports in victory lane. So proud. This means a lot in a lot of different ways. Just appreciate all the effort."
"It’s been a fun day and we’re certainly going to enjoy this," he continued. Like I told the crew after the race, those guys, they’ve been deserving of one for a while so glad we could get across the line first. We’ll enjoy it for a few days and then go to work next week."
Today's victory is Elliott’s second win at Dover and the first time he has won on an oval since his 2020 championship season when he took the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami. He led a total of 73 laps today.
What was originally scheduled to be a two-day show was forced to three days after rain fell on the racetrack Sunday afternoon. The race was halted after 78 laps with Kyle Larson as the race leader. The final 317 laps were run today, and the race was filled with action from beginning to end.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr had his best showing of the season, finishing runner-up in his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet. It was just the second top-ten finish of the season for Stenhouse, dating back to his Bristol Dirt finish in 2021.
"Man, it’s been a rough start to the season," a relieved Stenhouse said. "Our short track program has been off. All of our other good races that we’ve had good runs going, something has always happened. Really good to put this all together. I felt like we had a car capable of winning, obviously getting off pit road at different times. My pit crew did a great job keeping us up front all day."
Ross Chastain finished in 3rd place today, although it wasn’t without controversy. The winner from last weekend had a run-in with Martin Truex Jr on the final lap of the race, and the two exchanged words on pit lane. When asked about the incident and meeting with Truex after the race, the Trackhouse Racing driver said, "We were talking about where we were going fishing next week."
Truex, who finished 12th, was just one of many Joe Gibbs Racing drivers to suffer some sort of heartbreak this afternoon. Denny Hamlin led 67 laps but lost a left-front tire while leading the race. He fought his way back into the top-five only to be collected by a spinning Cody Ware at the midpoint of the race and finished 21st. "A lug nut came out of the gun, and we did not know it until it was too late, obviously," crew chief Chris Gabehart told Hamlin over the radio after the incident. "It is what it is."
Christopher Bell had a wheel issue at the start of Stage 2 and went to the back of the field. Kyle Busch led the most laps (103) in the race but was caught out by an ill-timed caution. Still, Bell was able to rebound for a 4th place finish, with Alex Bowman completing the top five.
"Just very, very frustrating to have those issues and get put behind because I feel like if we could have stayed up front, we could have possibly contended for the win," Bell said. "We were able to get back up there in that third stage, and I’ll take it. Week-in, and week-out we are bringing cars capable of running in the top-five and top-ten, so hopefully our day is coming soon."
There were a total of 12 cautions in the race and 17 lead changes among ten different drivers. Larson finished 6th to put a bow on the day for Hendrick, with Kyle Busch coming home in 7th place. Pole sitter Chris Buescher battled his way back towards the front after falling off and finished in 8th. Kevin Harvick scored his 23rd top-ten finish at the Monster Mile and Erik Jones had a solid day, rounding out the top ten for Petty GMS.
It was another rough outing for Team Penske, as their drivers finished 26th, 29th, and 36th today. Rookie Austin Cindric was unable to make timely repairs on his damaged Ford Mustang. Joey Logano never showed any pace during the weekend and Ryan Blaney won Stage 2 but was never in contention for the win.
It was a weekend to forget for Richard Childress Racing as their drivers finished 23rd and 30th today. Both drivers had setup and handling issues for the majority of the weekend, but hope to rebound next weekend. AJ Allmendinger had a rough day after tapping the wall early in the race, then lost his right-front tire on his way to pit road.
The next event on the 2022 calendar will be a special one. The Cup Series heads to the iconic Darlington Raceway next weekend on Mother's Day. Coverage for Sunday's throwback Goodyear 400 at Darlington begins at 3:30 PM ET on FS1.