Road warrior: Chase Elliott wins at Road America
Chase Elliott is still king of the road courses in the NASCAR Cup Series.
On Sunday at Road America, Elliott recorded his sixth win in the last eight Cup road races and his seventh in the last 11. The reigning Cup champion took the lead from Kyle Busch on Lap 46 of 62, then pulled away over the final 16 laps to claim a 5.7-second victory over Christopher Bell.
It marked an impressive turnaround for Elliott, who qualified 34th on Sunday after two stoppages during the session kept him from posting a fast lap.
Elliott also noted that he’d been struggling to come to grips with the 4-mile Wisconsin road course, which held its first Cup race in nearly 65 years.
“I just never felt like I got in a good rhythm (in practice) all of (Saturday), so for whatever reason there, after about halfway through the race, I started finding some of that rhythm,” Elliott told NBC Sports.
“I was able to put it together, pieced every part of the track, and then finally, I feel like I was able to piece most of it together. I just stayed with it and I’m glad it worked out.”
Kyle Busch followed his Xfinity Series win on Saturday with a third-place finish Sunday.
His older brother, Kurt Busch, finished fourth to maintain his grip on the 16th and final Cup playoff spot with six regular season races to go.
Denny Hamlin, still searching for his first win of the season, finished fifth.
Kyle Larson, who entered Sunday having finished inside the top two in seven of the previous eight races, looked poised to claim at least a top five in the final laps.
But with six laps to go, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Alex Bowman, got in too deep at Turn 5 and turned him around. Bowman promptly reported that his brakes had gone out.
Larson ended up finishing 16th, while Bowman placed 22nd. Afterwards, Bowman sought Larson out on pit road to explain what happened.
According to NBC Sports’ Dustin Long, Larson later said there was “no hard feelings” over the incident.
STAGE 1 WINNER: William Byron
STAGE 2 WINNER: Tyler Reddick
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Christopher Bell’s runner-up is his best result since winning in February at the Daytona road course ... Chase Briscoe finished sixth to claim the second top 10 of his rookie Cup season. The other came on a road course as well (sixth, Circuit of the Americas) ... Matt DiBenedetto’s 10th-place finish was his first top 10 in his last nine races.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Starting from the rear (backup car), Ryan Preece suffered a reported blown engine to end his day at Lap 7 ... A transmission issue ground Daniel Suarez to a halt on track at Lap 3. Suarez later returned to the race, but finished 36th, nine laps down ... Xfinity Series regular Austin Cindric showed promising pace, but shortly after re-taking the lead, he suffered a mechanical issue and spun at Lap 24. The issue was terminal, forcing him to finish 38th.
NOTABLE: It was 23,702 days between the first Cup race at Road America on Aug. 12, 1956 and the track’s second Cup race on Sunday. That’s the longest stretch between Cup races all-time.
PENALTY: Chase Briscoe’s car had two lug nuts not safe and secure. Crew chief Johnny Klausmeier will serve a one-race suspension next week at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He’s also fined $20,000.
NEXT: Sunday, July 11 - Atlanta Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)