Chase Elliott masters Daytona road course
Something new for NASCAR ended in a familiar sight.
The inaugural Cup race on the Daytona International Speedway road course finished with Chase Elliott taking the checkered flag — the fourth consecutive road course Cup race Elliott has won.
Elliott was dominant on the 3.61-mile course. With no practice and qualifying before the race, there were many questions by drivers, but Elliott showed the way, leading 34 of 65 laps.
“Any win at Daytona is special,” Elliott said.
Elliott had to hold off the field on a restart created by Kyle Busch’s incident with five laps to go. Elliott kept the lead on the restart with three laps to go and held off Denny Hamlin to score his second win of the year.
“Our guys did a phenomenal job,” said Elliott, who won last year’s Roval race at Charlotte and last year’s race at Watkins Glen. “We just had a phenomenal car. I don’t think I did anything very special today. I think Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and all our guys did a really good job pitting there at the start. We made a couple really small adjustments, I felt like, there, at that first stop and I was really kind of able to leave it after that.”
Elliott also credited road racers Jordan Taylor and Boris Said with providing tips on the Daytona road course.
Hamlin finished second and was followed by Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Chris Buescher.
Despite finishing fourth, Johnson gained only one point on William Byron in the race for the final playoff spot. Johnson trails Byron by 25 points with three races left in the regular season. Byron finished eighth and outscored Johnson 11-8 in stage points.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Elliott
STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Jimmie Johnson’s fourth-place finish was his first top 10 in his last 11 starts. ... Chris Buescher’s fifth-place finish was his best result since placing third in the Daytona 500. ... Kaz Grala finished seventh in his first Cup start. Grala filled in for Austin Dillon, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week. ... Michael McDowell finished 10th for his first career top-10 road course finish in Cup. ... Martin Truex Jr.'s third-place finish was his fifth consecutive third-place finish and the sixth time in the last seven races he has placed third or better.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kyle Busch remains winless this year in Cup after a 37th-place finish that saw many problems throughout the day from flat-spotting tires early, spinning and a mechanical issue before his race ended. ... Ryan Blaney finished 31st, marking the second race in a row he has placed 30th or worse.
NOTABLE: Chase Elliott is the first Cup driver to win three consecutive road course races since Tony Stewart did so in 2004-05.
NEXT: Saturday, Aug. 22 at Dover (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN) in the first of two races there on the weekend.