After 98 career starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Chase Elliott finally got the proverbial monkey off his back at Watkins Glen.
Much like his famous father Bill back in 1983, the Dawsonville, Georgia native scored his first career MENCS race at a road course. Just like his father, he had to endure many runner-ups before celebrating that inaugural Cup victory.
This time, the 22-year-old racer made his magical moment happen at the legendary 2.45-mile road course in his 99th start.
Starting third, Elliott was a factor throughout today’s GoBowling at the Glen despite finishing 19th in Stage 1.
Parlaying pit strategy with a fast No. 9 SunEnergy 1 Chevy Camaro, Elliott battled defending race winner Martin Truex Jr tenaciously before taking the lead en route to a Stage 2 win.
From there on, it was a cat and mouse game between Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. in the final laps. Needless to say, Elliott had to earn his first win in the premier division.
Surely, Elliott tried mightily to hold off one of the title threat triumvirates in the final 15 laps.
“Holy cow!” Elliott exclaimed after the race. “What a thrill. I don’t know what to say. I’m so thrilled. So much relief. Worked on it for three years. I was able to get it done!”
Not surprisingly, the No. 9 team has showcased some speed in recent weeks. In fact, Elliott has won at least one stage in a race since the Foxwoods Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
All told, Elliott soaked in the moment and reflected on the struggles that led to his team’s recent rejuvenation.
“Man, it’s such a relief,” Elliott said. “Had some hard times to get here and learned a lot personally and had to have a good group around me to keep pushing me. This is a helluva day.”
The final laps played out like an action film or a thriller, as fans stood on their feet, particularly on the final lap. Forced to make a split second decision going into turn one, Elliott’s choice proved to be the correct one on this day.
“I was starting to wheel hop and I knocked it out of gear to not spin out,” Elliott observed. “I had a big enough gap where Martin (Truex Jr) wasn’t near me. What a day.”
Elliott’s first Cup win was truly special as he got to celebrate it with his father Bill in Victory Lane. Notably, the Georgian also snapped a 37-race winless streak for Hendrick Motorsports that dated back to the spring race at Dover in 2017.
Meanwhile, race runner-up Truex was able to cross the finish line on fumes while third-place finisher Kyle Busch overcame a fueling issue. Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray, William Byron, Kurt Busch, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-10.
Next up for the MENCS drivers and teams will be the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway (Sunday, August 12 at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSN). Fellow Chevrolet racer Kyle Larson hopes to return to the winner’s circle as he bids for his third straight summer race victory at MIS.