Chase Elliott took advantage of the misfortune of others and what turned out to be a wild final eight laps at Dover for his second career win and a spot in the Round of 8.
Elliott stayed out when Clint Bowyer’s crash brought out a caution with eight laps to go, which sent most of the leaders to pit road. On the ensuing restart, Elliott got a jump on Brad Keselowski, moving the Hendrick Motorsports driver out of harm’s way as a charging Aric Almirola made contact with Keselowski and triggered a multi-car wreck that led to a red flag.
On the overtime restart, Elliott drove away from Denny Hamlin to seal the victory, his second career win and the second this season for the No. 9 team.
“A lot – we had a penalty there early and fell behind and luckily had a good enough car and strategy to get back,” Elliott told NBC Sports about the win coming from perseverance. “Man, what a day. Thanks to those guys, and that man right there [Rick Hendrick] because he’s done so much for me. Wish my mom and dad were here. But man, it’s been a hell of a day.”
Joey Logano, Erik Jones, and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five.
Despite leading a race-high 286 laps and winning both stages, Kevin Harvick finished sixth after a pit stop issue. After pitting under green on lap 319, a lug nut broke a valve stem two laps later and brought him down pit road a second time, knocking him off the lead lap with 78 to go.
Receiving the free pass under a debris caution with 62 laps to go, Harvick climbed back into the top five. Through the last few cautions and restarts, he never again challenged for the lead.
Completing the top 10 were Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Daniel Suarez.
But it was Almirola who had been in control late in the Gander Outdoors 400 until the second-to-last caution. Having his lead wiped out, Almirola lined up sixth on the restart behind those who stayed out, Elliott, Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr., as well as those who came off pit road ahead of him with two tires, Hamlin and Alex Bowman.
Coming off Turn 2 on the restart, Almirola went wide, and when he came back off the wall, he collided with Keselowski. The No. 2 spun into Truex and also collected Bowman. The damage on Almirola’s car led him to pit road and a 13th-place finish.
“I know better to not get too far ahead of myself and just race the race and take it as it comes,” Almirola said. “We were obviously in really good position there; I was really taking it easy. … I felt really good about the position we were in coming to 10 to go leading … and just circumstances didn’t go our way. Just frustrated. I wanted to go to victory lane. I thought for sure we were going to go to victory lane here, this is a really great track for me, and obviously, all of our Stewart-Haas Racing cars were really fast.”
The race featured 15 lead changes among eight drivers and five caution flags.
Almirola (-10), Clint Bowyer (-10), Kyle Larson (-12) and Alex Bowman (-34) are the four drivers below the cutline going into Talladega Superspeedway.