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NASCAR: Has Chase Elliott become the best road course racer? – Beyond the Flag

NASCAR: Has Chase Elliott become the best road course racer? – Beyond the Flag
02 Oct
3:43

Following his come-from-behind victory at the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval, has Chase Elliott become the best road course racer in the NASCAR Cup Series?

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott had driven from his 19th place starting position to the lead of the round of 16 finale of the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval, and that led to him winning the second stage of the Bank of America Roval 400.

But shortly after he won this stage, he took that lead and buried it into the turn one tire barrier on lap 66 of this 109-lap race around the 17-turn, 2.28-mile (3.669-kilometer) Charlotte Motor Speedway roval in Concord, North Carolina.

Here’s what happened.

Fortunately for Elliott, his #9 Chevrolet was not significantly damaged, and his team made the necessary repairs to get him back on the track and on the lead lap, albeit all the way back in 31st place.

After the ensuing restart, the 23-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia native set his sights on getting back to the front.

The race’s final restart took place with just six laps remaining, and Elliott had worked his way up to third place by then. By the time the field got back around to the start/finish line, he had made his way back up to race lead, as he blew by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. for second and then Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick for the lead

He never looked back, and what originally appeared to be the most embarrassing moment of the season for Elliott turned into the inspiration for his comeback burnout upon taking the checkered flag for the sixth time in his career.

Following this come-from-behind victory, the question needs to be asked: has Elliott become the best road course racer in the Cup Series?

Elliott has earned six Cup Series victories, all since August of last year. No driver in the Cup Series as earned more during this 14-month span. Half of these victories have come in road course races despite the fact that there are just three road course races on the 36-race schedule.

In August of 2018, he held off Truex in second place to secure his first victory at Watkins Glen International. After winning at Dover International Speedway and Kansas Speedway in October of 2018 in the round of 12 of the playoffs, he earned his first victory of the 2019 season in April of 2019 at Talladega Superspeedway.

When the series returned to Watkins Glen International, Elliott won the race in dominant fashion, again over Truex in second place. Now he can say he drove from the back to the front over the course of only a few dozen laps at what is considered by most drivers to be the toughest track on the Cup Series schedule.

Elliott has now won three of the last five road course races. Before this five-race span, he finished in fourth place at Sonoma Raceway. The two races during this five-race span that he didn’t win were held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval and Sonoma Raceway.

He finished in sixth place in last year’s race at the former, and he was running in the top three in this year’s race at the latter before a mechanical issue robbed him of what appeared to be a sure top three finish.

In each of his three road course victories, he has led the more laps than anybody else in the field, twice doing so with a majority of laps led. He led 52 of the 90 laps at Watkins Glen International last year and 80 of the 90 laps there this year, and despite the fact that it took him 39 laps to recover from his wreck in Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval, he still led a race-high 35 of the 109 laps.

When discussing road course success, you obviously also can’t ignore Truex, who himself has won three of the last seven road course races, a tally that could very well be four had he not been taken out by Jimmie Johnson in the final turn of the final lap of the race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval last year.

But every time that Elliott and Truex have gone head to head in road course races during this span, it has been Elliott who has come out on top. He held of the 2017 champion twice at Watkins Glen International, and he blew by him following the final restart at the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval.

Next: Top 10 NASCAR drivers of all-time

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Following his come-from-behind victory at the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval, has Chase Elliott become the best road course driver in the NASCAR Cup Series? It’s definitely still between him and Martin Truex Jr., but the way he won this race and his recent success against Truex head to head makes it extra difficult to argue against him.

Source: https://beyondtheflag.com/2019/10/02/nascar-chase-elliott-become-best-road-course-racer/

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