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Saturday May 21st, 2022 7:39AM

Chase Elliott conquers the Monster Mile for first 2022 win

By Holly Cain-NASCAR Wire Service
  Contact Editor

Chase Elliott earned his first victory of the season in Monday’s weather-delayed NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover Motor Speedway.

The Dawsonville, Georgia native led the final 53 laps of the 400-lapper and pulled away from Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. for a 2.577-second victory in a race that was slowed 12 times for caution periods, including a red flag weather delay on Sunday that necessitated pushing the restart to Monday.

It’s the 14th career win for Elliott and a historic fifth win for Hendrick Motorsports in 2022. It is the first time in NASCAR history a team has had all four of its drivers win races in the opening 11 races of a season.

Elliott had to work at this one for sure with 17 lead changes among 10 drivers.

“Just had some good circumstances finally” Elliott said. “Just really appreciate (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) and our entire team for just sticking with it.

“We had some tough races over the last four or five months and just great to get NAPA back to victory lane and great to get Hendrick Motorsports in victory lane. So proud. This means a lot in a lot of different ways. Just appreciate all the effort.”

“It’s been a fun day and we’re certainly going to enjoy this,’’ Elliott continued, after thanking the fans that came out for the Monday race conclusion.

“Like I told them (crew) after the race, those guys, they’ve been deserving of one for a while so glad we could get across the line first. We’ll enjoy it for a few days and then go to work next week.”

He came a few car lengths from victory, but runner-up Stenhouse was nearly as happy as the winner after the race. It marked only the second top-10 of the season – second top-20 – and was his best showing since a runner-up finish on the Bristol dirt Track back in March of 2021.

Stenhouse finished fifth in Stage 2 and ran among the top-10 for the last 150 laps of the race, moving into second place behind Elliott with 51 laps remaining.

Ross Chastain finished third but had some contact with three-time Dover winner Martin Truex, Jr. on the final lap fighting for position. The two touched and Truex’s Toyota spun around. He recovered to finish 12th and the two drivers exchanged words afterward on pit lane.

Asked about the last lap incident and the encounter after the checkered flag with Truex, Chastain smiled and said “we were talking about where we were going fishing next week.’’

Christopher Bell was fourth, with Alex Bowman in fifth. Kyle Larson was sixth followed by Kyle Busch, who led the most laps (103) on the day and was a strong contender for the trophy before getting caught on pit road during a caution period.

Busch and Bowman – who were running first and second at the time – came to pit road on lap 322 only to have a caution come out for A.J. Allmendinger, whose Chevy lost a wheel. The two drivers restarted toward the tail end of the lead lap and still managed to race their forward to the top-10 finishes.

Polesitter Chris Buescher finished eighth – his third top-10 showing in the Roush Fenway Keselowski Ford on the year and first in six races. Kevin Harvick and Erik Jones rounded out the top 10.

It was rough day for former Dover winner Denny Hamlin, who led 67 laps and won Stage 1, but had two major snafus derail what looked like a promising day.

While leading the race, Hamlin’s left front tire came off as he exited pit road following a stop. It set him to 29th place. He drove all the way back into the top five only to be collected by a spin by Cody Ware just after the race’s midpoint.

The damage to Hamlin’s Toyota took away any shot for the victory and he finished 21st. Hamlin has only one top 10 – a win at Richmond last month – on the season.

Elliott’s win gives him a 50-point lead on Ryan Blaney in the championship standings.

NASCAR Cup Series
Dover Motor Speedway – Dover, DE
DuraMAX Drydene 400 – May 2, 2022

1. (4) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 400.
2. (15) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Chevrolet, 400.
3. (7) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 400.
4. (17) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 400.
5. (6) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 400.
6. (3) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400.
7. (10) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400.
8. (1) Chris Buescher, Ford, 400.
9. (11) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 400.
10. (25) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 400.
11. (14) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 400.
12. (18) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 400.
13. (23) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 400.
14. (8) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 400.
15. (30) Cole Custer, Ford, 400.
16. (9) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 399.
17. (29) Michael McDowell, Ford, 399.
18. (21) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 399.
19. (27) Aric Almirola, Ford, 399.
20. (20) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 399.
21. (2) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 399.
22. (33) William Byron, Chevrolet, 399.
23. (24) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 398.
24. (35) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 398.
25. (13) Ryan Preece(i), Ford, 398.
26. (5) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 397.
27. (31) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 396.
28. (34) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 396.
29. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 396.
30. (26) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 390.
31. (16) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 388.
32. (36) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 381.
33. (19) A.J. Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, Brakes, 321.
34. (28) Cody Ware, Ford, DVP, 238.
35. (32) B.J. McLeod, Ford, Brakes, 167.
36. (12) Austin Cindric #, Ford, DVP, 91.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 104.507 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 49 Mins, 39 Secs. Margin of Victory: Under Caution

Caution Flags: 13 for 75 laps.

Lead Changes: 17 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders: C. Buescher 1-18;D. Hamlin 19-73;K. Larson 74-92;C. Elliott 93-111;D. Hamlin 112-123;R. Chastain 124-159;M. Truex Jr. 160;R. Chastain 161-190;J. Haley 191-209;A. Bowman 210-211;K. Busch 212-244;R. Blaney 245-252;K. Busch 253-322;M. Truex Jr. 323-326;R. Chastain 327-340;C. Elliott 341;R. Chastain 342-347;C. Elliott 348-400.

Leaders Summary: (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led) Kyle Busch 2 times for 103 laps; Ross Chastain 4 times for 86 laps; Chase Elliott 3 times for 73 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 67 laps; Justin Haley 1 time for 19 laps; Kyle Larson 1 time for 19 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 18 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 8 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 2 times for 5 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,9,20,1,19,5,24,17,18,6

Stage #2 Top Ten: 12,18,48,19,47,1,43,21,17,9

Playoff Standings: 1. William Byron – 353 (2 Wins); 2. Ross Chastain – 338 (2 Wins); 3. Chase Elliott – 418 (1 Win); 4. Kyle Busch – 353 (1 Win); 5. Alex Bowman – 349 (1 Win); 6. Kyle Larson – 335 (1 Win): 7. Chase Briscoe – 270 (1 Win); 8. Austin Cindric – 239 (1 Win); 9. Denny Hamlin – 204 (1 Win); 10. Ryan Blaney – 368; 11. Martin Truex, Jr. – 336; 12. Joey Logano – 316; 13. Christopher Bell – 284; 14. Aric Almirola – 283; 15. Kevin Harvick – 280; 16. Erik Jones – 262.

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

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