Chase Elliot ran an undisputed race leading 153 out of the 312 laps at phoenix raceway as he held off Brad Keselowski who was also contending for the Championship title. Elliot led Keselowski by 2.7 seconds at the finish line. Chase Elliot is the son of former NASCAR champion, Bill Elliot.
“I’m at a loss of words, this is unbelievable. We did it. I mean, we did it. That’s all I’ve got to tell you. Unreal,” Elliott said, “I just can’t say enough about our group. I feel like we took some really big strides this year, last week was a huge one. To come out of there with a win and have a shot to race for a championship is unbelievable. I don’t even know unreal.”
Elliot also expressed his thoughts about the final stage which drew caution-free, he said, “Just waiting on the caution, as always. I saw Joey (Logano) was pretty loose there and felt like I needed to get to him while I could. I had been kind of tight on the long run, was afraid he’d get a little better. I just never thought this year would go like it has.”
The 24-year-old has had three or more wins in three consecutive seasons and has advanced to the seasons’ playoffs every year he has been a fulltime driver in NASCAR Cup series. The Sunday’s win was his fifth in the 2020 NASCAR Cup season, the most and the 11th in his career. Elliot had a chance to compete in the Sunday’s race by winning last weekend’s race at Martinsville speedway in which he showed a great deal of talent.
After Elliot crossed the finish line, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who will be retiring from Fulltime NASCAR racing after this year, rode side-by-side with Elliot around the track. Johnson finished fifth which was his best finish since he completed third at Dover back in August.
“I’ve learned so many lessons inside and out of the car. I’m full,” Johnsons said. “I’m ready to spend my time a little differently 38 weeks a year on the road racing Cup Series, I’m just ready for something else.”
Brad Keselowski finished second in the race and also in the championship standings as Joey Logano finished third in the race and also in the championship, Denny Hamlin took the fourth spot in the race as well as in the championship as Johnson finished fifth. The other drivers who completed in the top 10 category were; Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron and Martin Truex Jr.
In the first stage, Logano held off Hamlin to take a win for the stage as Elliot was third, Keselowski fourth and Blaney rounded out the top five. Logano started on the pole as Elliot was forced to start the race at the rear of the field after his No.9 Chevrolet failed the pre-race inspection twice. By lap 9, Elliot had gotten up to the top 20 and at lap 26 he moved up further to top 10. On lap 31 a caution was displayed by NASCAR to check tyre wear.
By lap 42, Elliot was up in the fourth place as Logano maintained a nearly a second lead over Hamlin. Elliot later got to third as Keselowski took the fourth position.
In stage two, Keselowski passed Elliot on the final turn of the lap and took victory for the stage, Logano was third, Hamlin fourth and Blaney rounded out the top five. On the restart on Lap 84, Logano was followed by Hamlin, Elliott and Keselowski. On Lap 106, Logano reported a vibration in his brake pedal while he was still leading the race. Elliott got around Hamlin on Lap 114 to move into the runner-up position as Logano remained out front.
On Lap 120, Elliott moved past Logano off Turn 2 to take the lead for the first time in the race. Keselowski was the first of the Championship 4 to make his green-flag pit stop on Lap 128. Logano pit on Lap 137. Elliott and Hamlin followed on Lap 140. Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 151, Elliott moved into the lead followed by Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Keselowski.
James Davison wrecked off Turn 2 on Lap 161 to bring out a caution. The lead-lap cars pit with Kurt Busch the first off pit road thanks to a two-tire pit stop. On the restart on Lap 168, Kurt Busch was followed by Elliott, Hamlin and Logano. After racing side-by-side with Kurt Busch, Elliott cleared for the lead entering Turn 3 after the restart.
Keselowski got around Elliott on Lap 173 to move into the lead. With eight laps remaining in the stage, Elliott was able to get back by Keselowski to reclaim the lead.
In the final stage, With only 90 laps to go in the race, Elliott maintained about a half-second lead over Logano, followed by Hamlin, Keselowski and Blaney. By Lap 225, Keselowski got around Hamlin and took over third. With 60 laps remaining, Elliott maintained almost a 1-second lead over Logano. Some teams had made their final green-flag pit stop but the title contenders stayed on the track.
Logano was the first to pit among the title contenders on Lap 260. Hamlin was next. Elliott and Keselowski pit on Lap 261. Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 262, Logano came out the leader followed by Elliott, Hamlin and Keselowski.
Elliott went to the inside of Logano off Turn 3, gave him a nudge and reclaimed the lead on Lap 270 as Hamlin remained in third, more than 3 seconds behind the leader. With 20 laps remaining, Elliott had moved out to a 2.7-second lead over Logano and appeared to be in excellent position to win his second consecutive race and first series title. Keselowski got around Logano to take the runner-up spot with 10 laps to go but he was still more than 3 seconds behind the leader.