- On Sunday, after torrential showers threatened to postpone the race, the NASCAR Cup Series finally caught a break in the weather and took the green flag for its first-ever street-course event.
- After moving to a backup car following an incident in Saturday’s qualifying session, Elliott started the race from the rear of the field. He finished the first stage in 20th and rebounded for a 25th-place result in the second stage after making contact with the tire barrier.
- Strategy in the final stage helped Elliott gain pivotal track position. He held his own through several late-race cautions to take the checkered flag in the third position at the Chicago Street Course.
- It was Elliott’s third consecutive top-five finish. He now sits 24th in the Cup Series point standings with eight races remaining in the regular season. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native is just 55 points below the provisional cutline to advance to the playoffs.
On Sunday, after heavy rain threatened to postpone the race, the NASCAR Cup Series finally caught a break in the weather and took the green flag for its first-ever street-course event. After moving to a backup car following an incident in Saturday’s qualifying session at the Chicago Street Course, Elliott started the race at the back of the pack. The 27-year-old driver was undeterred by starting deep in the field and was up to 26th by the time the first caution of the race came out on lap three. Once back under green, Elliott continued to find his rhythm. He was scored in the 25th position when another incident brought out the yellow flag on lap 13. While some cars decided to pit, Elliott and the No. 9 Hooters team opted to remain out on the track. Elliott lined up 22nd for the lap-15 restart and crossed the stripe in 20th to end the first stage at the completion of lap 20.
As the track dried out, more cars decided to head to pit road for slick tires after starting the race on wet weather tires. Crew chief Alan Gustafson called Elliott in on lap 25 for the team’s first stop of the day, opting for four slick tires and fuel. Once Elliott was back out on the track, the driver of the No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet made contact with the tire barrier but was able to continue on. Despite the loss of track position, Elliott pressed forward. When the caution flag waved on lap 30, he was scored in the 28th position. The Hooters Chevrolet had some damage to the hood and right front, so the team called Elliott to pit road for fresh tires, fuel, and repairs. The 2020 Cup Series champion restarted from the 33rd position on lap 33 and methodically worked his way forward, climbing to 29th before the race’s next caution period on lap 41. Staying out, Elliott took the green flag in the 25th position on lap 43. The caution flag waved once more, just one lap shy of the end of stage two. Elliott was credited with a 25th-place finish in the stage.
With the delayed start to the race, NASCAR made the call to shorten the 100-lap race to just 75 circuits due to darkness. Having refueled more recently than most of the field, the team opted to stay out on the track while several cars pitted. Gustafson and the No. 9 team knew they’d still be cutting it close on fuel but were willing to take the gamble to gain track position, knowing there would likely be more cautions. Elliott restarted in third on lap 48, and after just one lap of green flag racing, another caution flag was displayed for an on-track incident. Gustafson called for Elliott to save fuel under the yellow. The Hendrick Motorsports driver maintained his third-place running position once the field was back under the green flag and throughout another caution period. The top three cars stayed nose-to-tail as the laps started winding down. When the second-place car made contact with the wall, Elliott took advantage and moved into the runner-up spot. He battled hard, but the eventual race winner worked his way by on lap 67, dropping Elliott back to third. The very next lap, an incident brought out the yellow flag, and Elliott lined up third for the restart with five laps to go. Melee struck in the final laps, and the race was slowed one more time, resulting in an overtime restart. Elliott gave it his all, bringing the Hooters Chevrolet home in the third position.
The finish was Elliott’s third consecutive top-five effort. He now sits 24th in the point standings, just 55 markers below the provisional cutline to advance to the Cup Series playoffs. Next week, the series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Elliott is the defending winner of the July event.
“I really appreciate everyone on our Hooters team for just fighting all weekend,” Elliott said. “I did not do a very good job yesterday, obviously crashing and crashing again today and just kept putting us in big holes. So, I have to certainly be better, but I appreciate the effort and the willingness to keep fighting by everybody on our team. I appreciate that and looking forward to going back to work and trying to get better.”
Start / Finish: 26 / 3
Points Standing / Total: 24th / 323 pts. (-268)
Next Race: Sunday, July 9, Atlanta Motor Speedway
How to Watch or Listen: 7:00 p.m. ET on USA, PRN or Sirius XM
Founded by Rick Hendrick in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports is the winningest team in NASCAR Cup Series history. At the sport’s premier level, the organization holds the all-time records in every major statistical category, including championships (14), points-paying race victories (291) and laps led (over 77,000). Headquartered in Concord, North Carolina, the team fields four full-time entries in the NASCAR Cup Series, including the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driven by 2020 champion Chase Elliott.