Chase Elliott and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team led 23 laps and raced inside the top five for much of Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway before ultimately finishing seventh. The result advances the No. 9 team to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs beginning next weekend.
On Saturday night, Elliott started fifth and immediately jumped to fourth in the opening laps. When the first caution was displayed on Lap 27, Elliott reported that he was happy with the handling of his NAPA Chevy. During the caution, the No. 9 team elected to visit pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. Varying pit strategies shuffled Elliott to eighth for the ensuing restart on Lap 41, but the 24-year-old driver quickly propelled his way back to fourth. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native eventually climbed to third on Lap 83; he then took over the runner-up spot ten laps later. Late in the segment, Elliott tracked down the No. 2 car, wrestled the lead away, and cruised to his seventh stage win of the season.
During the stage break, Elliott reported that he was battling tight-handling conditions with his NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet. The team pitted for four tires and fuel and exited pit road in second. Elliott opted to line up as the second car in the favorable outside lane for the restart on Lap 137. The No. 9 Chevy settled into second on Lap 145. As the green-flag run went on, Elliott slipped to third on Lap 221. When the caution waved on Lap 234, the driver of the No. 9 reported that he was the best when he ran the bottom. For the No. 9 team’s next pit stop, crew chief Alan Gustafson called for a trackbar adjustment in addition to four tires and fuel. Elliott restarted fourth and moved into third on Lap 245. The race was slowed again on Lap 248 because of a wreck. At the time of the caution, which ultimately ended Stage 2, Elliott was scored third.
The NAPA team did not pit during the stage break and Elliott restarted sixth on Lap 261. By Lap 279, he was back up to third. The NAPA driver reported that his Camaro was still too tight. As the race continued to run green for an extended period, Gustafson called Elliott to pit road on Lap 405 for a scheduled-green flag pit stop. Unfortunately for the No. 9 team, an untimely caution on Lap 407 trapped Elliott two laps down. The NAPA team took the wave around prior to the restart to recover one of the two lost laps.
Elliott was scored one lap down in the 13th position when the race restarted with 83 laps remaining. There were no more cautions, but Elliott was able to methodically work his way back into the top ten as he ended the night with a seventh-place finish.
Start / Finish: 6 / 7
Points Earned: 48
Points Standing / Total: 5th / 3,021 pts.
Next Race: September 27, South Point 400, Las Vegas Motor Speedway
How to Watch or Listen: 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM
Founded by Rick Hendrick in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has earned 265 points-paying race victories and a record 13 car owner championships in the premier NASCAR Cup Series. Headquartered in Concord, NC, the organization fields four full-time Chevrolet teams on the Cup circuit, including the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet driven by Chase Elliott.