Elliott navigated a wild race Sunday, that included nine cautions and starting on wet tires, and held off Joey Logano to win for the second consecutive season on the Charlotte Roval.
The win is also Elliott’s fourth consecutive victory on a road course in the Cup Series, including his previous win this season at the Daytona Road Course. He now has three wins on the 2020 season and nine in his career. The win also locked Elliott into the Round of 8 of the series playoffs.
“Had a really good car,” Elliott said. “Just appreciate everybody that makes this deal go. We were solid here last year and I felt we took what we had and made it a little better. I did a better job, didn’t piledrive the barrier, that was good.
“It’s always the best way to get through to win. I hope we can do something in the next round. I wish we’d got more today but we’ll take those 5 (playoff points) and see what we can do.
“I feel like Hendrick dominated Charlotte for a long, long time. I hope we can get back to that. It’s too hard to get picky about where we win so we’ll take it.”
Erik Jones finished third in the race, Kurt Busch fourth and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 finishers were William Byron, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Cole Custer and Clint Bowyer.
Four drivers were eliminated from further title contention this season following Sunday’s race including reigning series champion Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Bowyer and Aric Almirola.
“Just trying to get everything we can get. You throw a couple of ‘Hail Mary’s’ and they don’t work. That 9 car (Elliott) is spectacular here,” Kyle Busch said. “I followed him a couple of laps and he got smaller and smaller driving away.”
On stage 1, Ty Dillon was among the first drivers in the race to change from wet tires to slicks, held off Bell to claim the Stage 1, his third stage victory of the 2020 season. DiBenedetto finished third, Byron fourth and Timmy Hill rounded out the top-five. Denny Hamlin started on the pole but Keselowski got around him in the frontstretch chicane to lead the first lap of the race. With five laps until the competition caution, Keselowski remained out front followed by Elliott and Truex. Elliott went to the outside of Keselowski in Turn 2 on Lap 8 to take the lead for the first time. Truex remained in third and Bowyer moved to fourth.
On Lap 11, NASCAR issued a competition caution to allow teams to check tire wear and teams were also debating whether to change from wet to dry tires as the track began to dry out more and more. About half the teams elected to pit for tires, but Elliott stayed out and remained in the lead. On the restart on Lap 13, Elliott was followed by Truex and Bowyer. Chris Buescher had to restart from the rear of the field as he had a crew member over the wall too soon during his pit stop. As the field went through Turns 1 and 2, Truex got around Elliott for the lead as Bowyer moved into second. Bowyer then got past Truex in the frontstretch chicane to grab the lead for the first time in the race.
With 10 laps remaining in the first stage, Bowyer opened up a 1.4-second lead on Truex as Elliott remained in third. On Lap 18, both Johnson and Bell pit under green for dry tires as the track continued to dry out. Ty Dillon, who pit during the competition caution to take on dry tires, made his way to sixth by Lap 20 and up to second on Lap 21. Ty Dillon went to the inside of Bowyer on the backstretch to take the lead on Lap 21.
On Lap 23, a caution was displayed as John Hunter Nemechek became stuck off Turn 6 in the grass. A handful cars who were still on wet tires pit under the caution, including Bowyer, Kyle Busch and Truex. The race restarted with one lap remaining in the stage and Ty Dillon still leading the way. Jones had to start the race from the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to his No. 20 Toyota prior to the start.
On stage 2, Blaney held off Elliott in a two-lap dash to collect the Stage 2 victory. Bell ended up third, Truex fourth and Logano rounded out the top-five. Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, several drivers elected to pit but Bell stayed out and inherited the lead. On the restart on Lap 29, Bell was followed by Matt DiBenedetto and Byron. Byron got by Bell entering Turn 1 on Lap 30 to take the lead for the first time as DiBenedetto remained third.
On Lap 33, Ryan Newman spun on the frontstretch but was able to get back going without a caution. Keselowski, Jones and DiBenedetto all spun in Turn 4 on Lap 34 but were able to continue without further incident. With 15 laps remaining in the stage, Byron continued to lead the way with Blaney and Logano not far behind. Entering Turn 1 on Lap 40, Blaney went to the inside of Byron and came away with the lead for the first time in the race.
With 8 laps remaining in the stage, Blaney had built up a more than 3-second lead over Byron as Logano ran third. Elliott was fourth and Bowman fifth. Caution was displayed on Lap 47 after J.J. Yeley’s No. 77 Chevrolet became stuck in the grass off Turn 6. The race returned to green with two laps to go and Blaney still leading the way.
Kyle Busch, his playoff hopes already in danger, slowed dramatically in Turn 5 with a flat left-front tire and made his way to pit road.
On the final stage, Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, several lead-lap cars pit including Blaney as Christopher Bell inherited the lead. Truex was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart the race from the rear of the field. On the restart on Lap 54, Bell was followed by Byron and Tyler Reddick.
Byron quickly got around Bell on the restart to take the lead as Elliott dropped down pit road with a loose wheel. With 50 laps remaining in the race, Byron led Bell by almost a second as Brad Keselowski had worked his way back to third.
On Lap 65, Ty Dillon got off-course and wrecked in Turn 6 to bring out a caution. Several lead-lap cars pit for fuel and tires but Byron stayed out and in the lead. On the restart on Lap 68, Byron was followed by Bell, Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson. Bowyer got around Bell at the entrance to Turn 1 on the restart and began to challenge Byron for the lead.
Austin Dillon wrecked at the entrance to the frontstretch chicane after contact with Kyle Busch on Lap 69 to bring out another caution. Custer also missed chicane during the incident. Alex Bowman reported during the caution that he wasn’t feeling well in his No. 88 Chevrolet. He may have some damage to the crush panel on his car earlier in the race.
Several lead-lap drivers elected to pit under the caution but Blaney stayed on the track and took over the lead. Byron was penalized for speeding on pit road during his stop and had to restart the race from the rear of the field.
On the restart on Lap 73, Blaney was followed by Ryan Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Bubba Wallace got into Stenhouse at the entrance of Turn 1 on the restart in an incident that also collected Bowyer, which received damage to his No. 14 Ford. Later in the same lap, Blaney got spun, which turned the lead over to Preece, followed by Bowman and Logano.
On Lap 82, Bowman got around Preece entering Turn 5 to take the lead for the first time as Elliott moved into second. Elliott finally worked his way around Bowman on Lap 84 for the lead as both drivers went through Turn 5. Debris in Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 86 forced NASCAR to cause a caution and at around the same time, Matt Kenseth plowed into the barrier in Turn 3.
Almost all the lead-lap cars pit for tires and fuel to make it to the finish of the race but Kyle Busch stayed out and inherited the lead. On the restart on Lap 90, Kyle Busch was followed by Bell, Hamlin, Jones and Blaney. Jones got around Kyle Busch in Turn 5 on Lap 91 to grab the lead as Elliott also passed Kyle Busch to move into the second position.
Exiting Turn 8 on Lap 92, Elliott went to the inside of Jones to reclaim the lead. Brennan Poole stalled on the track in Turn 13 on Lap 97 to bring out another caution and bunch the field again. Some lead-lap cars pit but Elliott remained on the track and in the lead. On the restart with 10 laps remaining, Elliott was followed by Jones, Kurt Busch and Logano.
With five laps to go, Elliott had built up a more than 2-second lead over Logano as Kurt Busch ran third. With two laps remaining, Kyle Busch was forced to pit as he ran out of fuel, which left him with no chance to advance in the Cup Series playoffs