Chase Elliott Wins First NASCAR Cup Series Title

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  • Chase Elliott won the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series title.
  • Elliott is the third youngest Cup Series winner ever.
  • He started the final race from the back after his no. 9 car failed a pre-race inspection.

NASCAR witnessed the proverbial changing of the guard when Chase Elliott won his first ever NASCAR Cup Series championship in the final race of teammate Jimmie Johnson’s legendary career.

Johnson was making the last start of his career and he finished fifth, his best finish since August. His 83 race victories rank 6th all-time and his championship run from 2006-10 is the best ever in the history of the Cup Series. Johnson’s seven Cup Series titles are tied with Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most by any driver. His 686th race though will be remembered as the day that Chase Elliott broke through and emerged as the new face of NASCAR.

Third Youngest Cup Series Winner

At 24 years, 11 months, and 11 days old, Elliott becomes the third-youngest Cup Series champion ever. Only 1950 champion Bill Rexford and 1995 winner Jeff Gordon were younger when they won. Rexford was only 23 years of age when he triumphed while Gordon was 24 yeas, 3 month, and 8 days old when he claimed his first ever Cup Series title.

He is also the fourth driver to bring a championship to Rick Hendrick’s team. Elliott’s win was the 13th overall title for Hendrick Motorsports and its first since 2016 when Jimmie Johnson won the last of his record-tying seven world titles. The other drivers to win for Hendrick were Gordon who won all four titles with the team and Terry Labonte who won in 1996.

Since his father, Bill “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville”Elliott, also won the Cup Series in 1988, the Elliotts become the third father-son tandem to win the NASCAR Cup championship. Lee and Richard Petty and Ned and Dale Earnhardt are the other father and son tandems to achieve the feat.

Coming From The Back

What makes Elliott’s triumph more impressive is the fact that he had to win the race by coming from the back. Elliott’s care failed a pre-race inspection and he was penalized. Instead of starting from the pole, Elliott was sent to the rear of the pack. However, he made up ground by moving to third place after Stage 1. By the end of Stage 2, he was already in second place and by the final stage, he took over the race.

He led seven times and for a total of 153 laps, the most by any driver in the race. After passing Joey Logano with 42 laps to go, Elliott dominated the rest of the way, leading the final 43 laps of the race. His margin of victory was a big 2.74 seconds over Brad Keselowski.

The win was Elliott’s fifth of the season, behind only Kevin Harvick’s nine and Denny Hamlin’s seven. He rode to the postseason with two victories and advanced through the playoffs with wins in the Round of 12 and Round of 8 finales. He stretched his winning road-course winning streak to four with wins at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course and Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. His other two wins were a first for him- one at the oval layout in Charlotte and another in the season’s penultimate race at Martinsville.

Hectic 2020 Schedule

Elliott’s win concluded a hectic 2020 schedule for NASCAR. The COVID-19 pandemic forced it to revamp its 38-race calendar. The season was suspended just five days after the race in Phoenix last March. After being idle for 10 weeks, NASCAR was one of the first to resume its season.

Racing restarted on May 17th and they had to resort to doubleheaders, midweek races, and a massive reshuffling of the schedule in order to complete the season for all of NASCAR’s three national series.

The Finale was the first race at NASCAR’s owned and renovated Phoenix Raceway. The organizers loosened its COVID-19 protocols by allowing families and special guests for the first time since last March.

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