Chase Elliott wasn’t even able to turn a lap in NASCAR Cup Series qualifying on Sunday morning, which relegated the driver of the No. 9 car to starting in the rear of the field.
It didn’t much matter, as after 62 laps of racing in Sunday’s Jockey Made in America 250 at Road America, it was Elliott who cruised to the checkered flag, after leading a race-high 24 laps, to score his second win of the 2021 season.
Elliott was proud as punch to overcome the horrible starting position and he was elated by the total team effort with the performance of his car and his No. 9 team throughout the day.
“Man, it was a hot day, but a lot of fun, man,” Elliott said after wrapping up his victory celebration. “Really proud of our team for overcoming some adversity early and having to start in the back. Had really good pit stops and a really fast NAPA Chevrolet. Just so proud, we’ve had a rough two weeks, so, it feels really good.”
Elliott’s margin of victory was nearly six seconds over Christopher Bell.
The only thing Elliott did wrong all race was he performed his initial burnout in the wrong location. But he made up for it by shredding his rear tires in the designated spot in turn five in front of an electric crowd.
This is the Georgia-native’s 13th-career NASCAR Cup Series win and it’s the seventh of his career on road courses. And for those wondering, yes, Elliott did eventually make it to victory lane:
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) July 4, 2021
For Bell, this runner-up effort is his first top-five finish since Richmond back in April. Bell believes this performance may indicate his team is on the rally back to being a force.
“That was a lot of fun. Our SiriusXM Camry was really good,” Bell said. “Really proud of this No. 20 group. It been a trying last two months, but we feel like we’re getting back on track, here. There’s no reason why we can’t be running up front every week.”
Kyle Busch finished third, one spot ahead of his brother Kurt Busch. Denny Hamlin capped off the top-five finishers in the race.
Rookie contender Chase Briscoe tied his career-best finish in NCS competition with a sixth-place effort.
Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick, Martin Truex Jr. and Matt DiBenedetto made up the remainder of the top-10 in the final running order of Sunday’s race.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman finished a disappointing 16th and 22nd after the two collided with under 10 laps left in the race.
Bowman had trouble getting his No. 48 car slowed up in time for a turn, which caused him to spin Larson out. The duo were running fourth and fifth at the time of the incident.
NASCAR Xfinity Series regular, Austin Cindric led two laps on the day and appeared to have enough pace to finish inside the top-five if everything went well on Sunday. However, on lap 35, Cindric’s car suffered a mechanical failure that ended his day.
While the rest of the field and fans watching definitely knew Cindric was there on Sunday, because of his performance, the driver left Sunday’s race very dejected.
“I only had one wheel drive and when you only have two other ones spinning with 750 horsepower it is a bit challenging. It was quite dramatic taking the lead and then immediately losing everything. Not a weekend I am necessarily happy about,” Cindric explained. “To have the opportunity to show up at this race track with extremely well-prepared race cars and have a shot to win both races is really great for someone in my position. But I want to make the most of it and I put way too much into it to have it go that bad, especially when you get moved out of the lead and then take it back as clean as possible, and then this is all you’ve got. That is racing. That is my motto for the weekend.”