On Sunday afternoon, Chase Elliott took the No. 9 to Gatorade Victory Lane at Talladega Superspeedway in the GEICO 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for his first ‘Dega win. The last time the iconic number was in Gatorade Victory Lane, another Elliott was behind the wheel, Chase’s father Bill, in 1987.
Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) executed a perfect strategy to end a seven-race Ford winning streak at Talladega Superspeedway. Several late-race crashes changed the complexion of what was a hard-fought race between three manufacturers – two desperate to end the other’s dominance at the famed speedway. It came to the delight of a great crowd in the stands, who cheered loudly and let Elliott know their approval when it was all said and done.
“We just had a plan, executed it really well. Obviously could have gone both ways,” Elliott said after climbing from his car at the start-finish line. “Fortunately, everybody stayed together, stayed the course, and had some help on that last lap with a caution. This is unbelievable. This is close to home for me, so it feels a little bit like a home race.”
Elliott held off his teammate Alex Bowman and fellow Chevy driver Ryan Preece, Joey Logano, last year’s GEICO 500 winner, was fourth with Daniel Hemric fifth – his best finish of his rookie campaign in NASCAR’s premier series. With the Dawsonville, GA native’s win, owner Rick Hendrick is now the all-time winningest car owner at Talladega in the Cup Series with 13.
A last-lap crash on the Alabama Gang Superstretch collected much of the field and sent Kyle Larson tumbling after hard contact with the inside wall. Larson, along with all other drivers involved, were evaluated and released from the infield care center.
A multi-car incident also struck on Lap 182 of the scheduled 188-lap event, involving Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr., Chris Buescher, Justin Haley, and Matt DiBenedetto, putting the field under a brief red flag and setting up the final wild dash to the checkered flag.
Logano led 37 laps in his No. 22 MoneyLion Ford Mustang, but gave way to Elliott and his fellow Chevrolet drivers in the race’s waning moments on lap 185.
“At the end, [Kurt Busch] had a big run and I felt like I had to block that. When I blocked that I can’t block both and [Elliott] got underneath me,” Logano said. “I really think even if it was green all the way to the end, it would have looked exactly the same.”
Ty Dillon, making his 100th career start in the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet for Germain Racing, picked up the win in Stage 1. Elliott also led a 1-2-3 finish for Hendrick Motorsports in Stage 2 for his first stage victory of the 2019 season.
An incident on Lap 11 ended the day for four drivers – Kevin Harvick, Michael McDowell, Mobile, AL native Bubba Wallace, and Matt Tifft, while also collecting Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin. Jimmie Johnson found the wall himself on lap 24, but was able to continue and finished 33rd.
Sunday’s race saw 37 official lead changes.
Earlier Sunday, NASCAR’s biggest and baddest track detailed plans for Phase II of Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar. The process of demolishing many of the pre-existing structures in the facility’s infield will begin next week, with an expedited construction timeline to follow, ensuring that all new amenities are prepared for fans’ arrival in October.
NASCAR returns to Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 11-13 with the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series’ Sugarlands Shine 250 (Oct. 12) and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ 1000Bulbs.com 500 (Oct. 13) – both part of the NASCAR Playoffs for those respective series. Ticket information for those races and all Talladega Superspeedway events is available on-line at www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or by calling (855) 518-RACE (7223).