Chase Elliott won his third consecutive road course race Sunday afternoon and did so on a third different track.
In the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race on the Daytona road course, Elliott led the most laps (34) and scored the win over Denny Hamlin. When his commanding 10-second lead disappeared because of a caution with six laps to go, Elliott lined up with Hamlin on the front row and teammate Jimmie Johnson behind him for the final restart.
The run to the finish was three laps. Although Elliott was unable to drive away from Hamlin, he managed enough of a buffer to where Hamlin could not get to his bumper in any of the final corners.
Daytona followed victories for Elliott at Watkins Glen and the Charlotte Roval last year. It is his second win of the season after Charlotte II and the eighth of his Cup Series career.
“Our guys did a phenomenal job, we just had a phenomenal car,” said Elliott. “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 at that first stop and I was really kind of able to leave it after that. So, I just appreciate everybody that makes this happen. And, just thanks to all our partners and Chevrolet.
“I spent a lot of time with them this past week. A special thanks to Jordan Taylor and Boris Said for reaching out and being willing to help this weekend; some road course ringers. I tried to lean on them and luckily everything worked out.”
Hamlin followed Elliott across the finish line. Martin Truex Jr. finished third ahead of Jimmie Johnson and Chris Buescher.
Clint Bowyer finished sixth and Kaz Grala seventh. Grala made his Cup Series debut for Richard Childress Racing, driving the No. 3 Chevrolet after Austin Dillon tested positive for COVID-19 and led three laps during a cycle of green-flag pit stops.
Completing the top 10 were William Byron in eighth, Joey Logano in ninth, and Michael McDowell in 10th.
The caution with six laps to go was the only natural caution of the day. It came when Kyle Busch crashed on the backstretch. Busch was multiple laps down after a stint in the garage because of the mechanical issues.
Three other times the race was halted. Twice for stage breaks and once for a lightning delay.
Elliott won Stage 1. Hamlin won Stage 2.
“I just would have liked to have stayed closer to him (Elliott) to put a little pressure on entries,” said Hamlin. “My entries were the strong point against him, but I was giving him four car lengths so he could kind of drive the entries the way he wanted to make sure he got a good exit.
“I wasn’t quite clean enough the last few laps, but I definitely gave myself a chance. Those last couple of corners, I felt like I did as much as I could to get him and tried to do it the right way.”
Elliott is the sixth driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to win three or more consecutive road course races joining Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace, Tim Richmond, and David Pearson.