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Elliott Rallies to 12th-Place Finish at Darlington

  • Chase Elliott and the No. 9 UniFirst team qualified 31st for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway.
  • Elliott methodically worked his way forward in the first stage to earn a 26th-place result before ending stage two in 16th.
  • After an issue during a pit stop relegated Elliott outside the top 20 to start the final stage, he battled back to take the checkered flag in the 12th position.
  • The 2020 Cup Series champion ranks fourth in the points standings and is just 49 markers behind the leader.

Chase Elliott qualified 31st for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway. Driving the No. 9 UniFirst Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Elliott maneuvered his way to 29th by lap 22 and was in that same position when the team made its first pit stop of the race for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment on lap 37. Once the field cycled through green-flag pit stops, Elliott was up to the 23rd position. Further into the run, the 2020 Cup Series champion relayed that he hurt his right-rear tire as he began to lose some track position. When the green-and-white checkered flag waved to end stage one, Elliott was scored in the 26th position.

Under the stage-ending caution, crew chief Alan Gustafson made the call for chassis and air-pressure adjustments during the team’s pit stop for four tires and fuel. Elliott was the 23rd driver to choose his lane to start the second stage. He chose the inside lane prior to taking the green flag on lap 98. The Hendrick Motorsports driver continued to battle inside the top 25 and was scored in 22nd when the caution flag waved on lap 120. Elliott radioed to Gustafson that the UniFirst Chevrolet was too tight during the course of that run, so the team opted to reverse the previous chassis adjustment when Elliott visited pit road for fresh tires and fuel. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native restarted from the 21st position on lap 128 and was up to 19th when the yellow flag was displayed again just one lap later.

Staying out, he restarted 19th and advanced to 17th early before dropping back outside of the top 20. Elliott reported that the UniFirst Chevrolet was still too tight. When another caution flag came out on lap 164, the team called Elliott in for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. He was 20th to choose his lane and took the outside for the restart on lap 169. From there, he pressed forward and nearly entered the top 15 before the end of the second stage, ultimately finishing it in the 16th position on lap 185.

After an issue during the team’s pit stop under the stage break, Elliott lined up deep in the field to start the final stage on lap 193. He was up to 24th on lap 212 and reported shortly after that his No. 9 UniFirst Chevy would be ok if he had good track position. He improved one more spot before coming to pit road under the green flag for four tires and fuel on lap 226. Once the pit cycle concluded, he was scored in 13th and advanced to 12th before cars on fresher tires started gaining on him. He was in 16th when a caution came out on lap 254 and was 14th to choose his lane after pitting for four tires and fuel. He chose the outside lane for the lap-260 restart and battled hard in the closing laps of the race to take the checkered flag in the 12th position.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver leaves Darlington fourth in the Cup Series points standings, just 49 markers behind the leader.

Start / Finish: 31 / 12
Points Standing / Total: 4th / 437 pts.

Next Race: Sunday, May 19, North Wilkesboro Speedway
How to Watch or Listen: 8:00 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN or SiriusXM

Chase Elliott: @ChaseElliott
Hendrick Motorsports: @TeamHendrick
No. 9 Team: @Hendrick9Team

Hendrick Motorsports View All

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.

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