Chase Elliott and the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet won an exciting overtime finish at Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Elliott’s second victory of the season helped him advance to Round 8 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
In last year’s Fall race at the Monster Mile, Elliott found himself in a similar position, leading the race late only to see that lead evaporate down the stretch. This time, though it took a few extra laps, Elliott came away with the checkered flag.
Kevin Harvick, the NASCAR Playoff points leader, was the class of the field on Sunday, leading 286 total laps at Dover while winning both the first and second stages of the race. However, late in the race Harvick was forced to pit with tire troubles, falling behind the lead pack. Harvick was able to make up some ground, but was never able to regain the lead, finishing sixth overall.
After Harvick’s lead disappeared, Aric Almirola took the lead, a position he’d keep for 64 laps.
Though, on lap 397 Almirola was involved in the day’s final wreck which took several cars which took out several drivers and the race was red-flagged. On the restart on lap 403, Elliott was able to take over first place from Denny Hamlin around turn two and wouldn’t be caught.
For Elliott, it’s a sweet victory considering what happened last year and also one that sets himself and his team at ease heading into next week’s race.
“Definitely think it makes it sweeter for sure - you don’t appreciate it in those moments,” Elliott said. “But, to come back and have the day we had - we get to move on to the next round and don’t have to worry about Talladega next week.”
Elliott finished just ahead of Hamlin Sunday, followed by Joey Logano, Erik Jones and Kurt Busch, rounding out the top five at Dover.
Despite coming up short after leading the majority of the way, Harvick still leads the way in the NASCAR Playoff standings, holding a five point advantage over Kyle Busch.
“I would have rather won,” Harvick said after the race. “I don’t really care about points, I’d rather win.”
The rest of the playoff field still alive includes, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Elliott, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Almirola, Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman.
The NASCAR Playoffs continues next week at Talladega Motor Speedway.