- Chase Elliott and the No. 9 LLumar team posted the fastest lap in practice on Saturday at Darlington Raceway before qualifying 21st for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race.
- Throughout the race, Elliott and his team made gains. The 27-year-old driver finished the first two stages in 13th and 12th, respectively, before battling inside the top 10 in the final stage.
- Elliott was involved in one of the final cautions of the race and the LLumar Chevrolet sustained some damage, but the team opted not to pit. Elliott drove on to finish third, his best Cup Series finish at Darlington.
- Elliott gained one position in the Cup Series standings and is now 28th in points after missing six races earlier this season due to a fractured tibia.
- Elliott drove a special throwback scheme that was a nod to his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott. The scheme earned the Best in Show Fan Vote.
Chase Elliott started the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway on Sunday from the 21st position. After dropping back to 25th early in the race, he reported that his No. 9 LLumar Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was a little tight. However, as the race progressed, Elliott made gains and was up to 22nd when the first caution flag of the race came out on lap 38. A fast stop for four tires and fuel helped the 27-year-old driver gain several positions on pit road. He restarted in 16th on lap 43 and worked his way inside the top 15, driving to 13th before the green-and-white checkered flag waved to end the first stage on lap 90.
During the stage-ending caution, Elliott radioed that his Chevrolet was tighter at the start of the run and was better when he had clean air. The team gained Elliott three spots on pit road with a quick four-tire pit stop. He took the green flag for stage two in 10th on lap 99 and settled into 12th after a chaotic restart. Early in the stage, Elliott relayed that he thought his No. 9 Chevrolet was the best it had been, but was still a little tight. He improved one position to 11th before green flag pit stops began. Gustafson called Elliott to pit road for four tires and fuel on lap 138. He was back up to 11th on lap 143 and was running in 12th when a caution flag came out on the final lap of the second stage.
After Elliott reported that he had hurt his rear tires just as badly as the previous runs with the tighter balance, the team made an air-pressure adjustment during its pit stop for four tires and fuel. Elliott lined up ninth to start the final stage on lap 193 and battled his way to eighth on lap 202. He was scored in 10th when the caution flag waved on lap 210. Elliott restarted in ninth on lap 215 with the help of another fast four-tire pit stop. After maneuvering his way to eighth early, he settled back in to ninth. The native of Dawsonville, Georgia, was in the same position when cars started heading to pit road for scheduled green-flag stops on lap 245. Elliott reported that he overbuilt the right-rear tire prior to making his way to his pit stall on lap 252 for fresh tires and fuel. Once the field cycled through pit stops, he was scored in 10th.
With just under 20 laps remaining, an incident brought out the caution. A lightning-fast pit stop by the No. 9 team helped Elliott gain four spots on pit road. He ultimately restarted in fifth with just 13 laps to go after another car needed to make an additional pit stop prior to the green flag. A hairy restart led to a multi-car incident at the front of the field. Elliott’s Chevrolet sustained some damage in the incident, but he was able to continue and restarted in fourth with six laps remaining. Another incident ahead of Elliott brought out the yellow flag. This time, he was able to avoid the melee. Elliott took the green flag for the overtime restart in the third position and that’s where he remained for the final two laps.
Elliott’s third-place finish is his best result in the Cup Series at Darlington Raceway. It’s his second top-three result of the season in just seven starts. Elliott gained one position in the point standings and now sits 28th after missing six races due to a fractured tibia.
“It was a solid finish, for sure,” Elliott said. “I felt like our No. 9 LLumar Chevy was plenty good enough to go up there and battle with those guys to win. I just struggled so bad in traffic; way worse than other guys do driving this caliber of a car. I just feel like from that standpoint, I’ve got a lot of work to do on my end. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and our team has done a really good job preparing good racecars. Our pit stops really kept us in the game all day.”
Start / Finish: 21 / 3
Points Standing / Total: 28th / 212 pts. (-217)
Next Race: Sunday, May 21, North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro, NC
How to Watch or Listen: 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM
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.