Chase Elliott used a fast car and track position to grab the $1 million prize in the Wednesday night NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Elliott led from start to finish in the final 15 lap segment. On his way to winning the All-Star Race for the first time, the Hendrick Motorsports driver also won both Stage 2 and Stage3 and led 60 of 140 laps.
“I can’t believe it,” said Elliott. “There’s nothing like Bristol. There’s nothing like the lights here. There’s nothing like racing here. I’ve never won here – what a race to do it. Just really proud of our team tonight and rebounding. We’ve had a really tough couple of weeks and just felt like we had kind of gotten off base, and I felt like I was struggling. Just tried to hit the reset button this week and came out and put on a great performance. Great car.”
In hosting this year’s edition, Bristol became just the third All-Star Race venue in NASCAR history. The event debuted in 1985, and the only other time it was held at a track other than Charlotte Motor Speedway was in 1986. The winner that day was Bill Elliott.
Kyle Busch started the final stage in fourth place on the outside lane, which he used to his advantage for a quick charge into the third spot. Busch then grabbed the second position with 13 laps to go, but after trying both the bottom and middle lanes, chased Elliott to the finish.
“It just wasn’t quite wide enough,” said Kyle Busch of the top groove. “If it had been a little bit wider and you could carry a little more speed with it, I might have had a chance. I tried to run up there early in the last stage to make it go a little earlier than I probably should have. I went back down because I knew I wasn’t going to catch him or pass him there, and I had to do something different. I just tried, and I think we inched up a little closer on him, but that was about it.
“We’re trying hard, and we’re running okay. It seemed like we were mired in 10th most of tonight, and then the last couple adjustments really helped us. Adam [Stevens, crew chief] did a great job helping the car and making it better. I got a good restart; I think I went from 12th all the way up to fifth, so that was a huge bonus for us getting that track position. Overall, (we) just have to keep fighting. I think that four or five second places this year, what do you do? We just have to keep going.”
Kevin Harvick finished third, Brad Keselowski was fourth, and Denny Hamlin was fifth. Harvick took the lead off pit road under the stage break following Stage 1 and led six laps.
Ryan Blaney led the most laps but finished sixth. After leading 72 laps and winning the first stage, the No. 12 Team Penske team elected not to have Blaney pit after the second or third stage, and he started the final segment on the oldest tires and faded from contention.
Joey Logano finished seventh, Alex Bowman finished eighth, Aric Almirola finished ninth, and Martin Truex Jr. finished 10th. Almirola transferred into the All-Star Race by winning the first stage of the All-Star Open. Truex was never a factor after having to start at the rear of the field when his car failed pre-race inspection twice.
William Byron finished 12th, and Matt DiBenedetto finished 13th. Both drivers also advanced into the event by winning a stage in the All-Star Open. Fan vote winner Clint Bowyer finished 15th.