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Elliott Rallies to 16th after Late-Race Setbacks at COTA

  • Chase Elliott and No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team qualified ninth for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of The Americas (COTA)
  • As part of the team’s strategy, the 2020 Cup champions pitted in the closing laps of each of the first two stages to hopefully put themselves in a good position to battle for the win
  • In the final stage, Elliott had just made a pass for fifth place when his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro got loose and he was penalized for exceeding the track limits
  • Despite serving a pass-through penalty, the 28-year-old rebounded to 11th on lap 54
  • Turning some of the fastest laps of the field, he was close to breaking into the top 10 when he spun and dropped to 19th
  • Elliott rallied to finish 16th and is now ninth in the Cup Series points standings

Chase Elliott earned a ninth-place starting position for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), marking the third straight week the No. 9 team qualified inside the top 10. At the start of the 68-lap race, Elliott held his own among the top-10 running order. He lost some positions as the run went on and was 13th when he relayed to the team that his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 felt stiff on initial load. Elliott advanced to 12th prior to being called to pit road in the closing laps of stage one for four tires and fuel – one of the popular pit strategies among the field. With some teams staying out on the track, Elliott was 18th following the pit stop and that’s where he remained to end the first stage.

During the stage break, several teams that didn’t short pit the first segment made their way to pit road, putting Elliott in the ninth position to start stage two. Prior to taking the green flag, the 28-year-old driver reported that the NAPA Chevy was tighter through the center of the turns after the initial pit stop. Despite the tight handling condition, Elliott continued to turn laps inside the top 10 during the second stage. He ran as high as seventh and was scored in the eighth spot when crew chief Alan Gustafson radioed for Elliott to come to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. The team also took the opportunity to reverse an air-pressure adjustment that was made the first pit stop. Elliott returned to the track in 21st and stayed there to take the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 30.

The 2020 Cup Series champion started the final stage from the 11th position on lap 33 and impressively maneuvered his way to sixth by lap 36. Elliott had just made the pass for fifth when he got loose in turn four and was issued a pass-through penalty for short cutting the course. The team challenged the call, but Elliott was ultimately forced to serve the penalty on lap 40. After leaving pit road, Elliott was scored 22nd but quickly made up ground on his competitors. Green flag pit stops got under way on lap 44 with the No. 9 team making its on lap 47. Following the four-tire pit stop, Elliott was 26th in the running order but was consistently turning some of the fastest laps of the field. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native was up to 20th on lap 50 and advanced to 15th just one lap later as green-flag stops continued. Elliott was up to 11th and had his sights set on a top-10 finish when he got loose and spun. The driver of the No. 9 was able to continue but the setback dropped him to 19th. Refusing to give up, Elliott fought hard to regain track position. He picked up a few spots and the team was hopeful for a late-race caution, but it never came. When the checkered flag waved, Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts crew was scored with a 16th-place finish. 

Elliott leaves COTA ninth in the Cup Series points standings, just 47 markers behind the leader.

Next Race: Sunday, March 31, Richmond Raceway
How to Watch or Listen: 7:00 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN or SiriusXM

Start / Finish: 9 / 16
Points Standing / Total: 9th / 173 pts. (-47)

NAPA: @NAPARacing
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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