Thursday, September 28, 2023

Chase Elliott Makes Aggressive Last-Lap Block on Corey LaJoie, Takes Hometown Victory at Atlanta

Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 celebrates his victory Sunday, July 10, 2022, after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. This is the third victory of the season for Elliott who leads the driver’s championship standings. Elliott also won both stages of this race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

An event that produced superspeedway-like racing, Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway almost provided a superspeedway-like winner, in the form of Corey LaJoie and Spire Motorsports.

However, as in most superspeedway events, there was one key move that cost the 30-year-old journeyman his first victory at NASCAR’s top-level, instead handing it on a silver platter to hometown boy Chase Elliott.

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Elliott – whose hometown of Dawsonville, Georgia, is located about four miles from the 1.5-mile facility —  was able to secure the lead on the penultimate lap of the event, as LaJoie moved to the inside to anticipate a move from the 2020 Cup Series champion.

Surprisingly, that wasn’t everything that LaJoie had to say about the outcome of the event, as the Charlotte, North Carolina-native was able to rebound and barely to the outside of Elliott in the first corner on the final lap.

Elliott was somehow able to block the move by Corey LaJoie, which sent the No. 7 Raze Energy Chevrolet Camaro up the track and into the outside wall, causing LaJoie to spin and crash on the final lap, collecting multiple others.

The multi-car accident forced NASCAR to effectively end the event by throwing the 13th caution of the event, giving the win to Chase Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports.

Sunday marks the 16th victory in the NASCAR Cup Series for Elliott and his third of the season, all of which have come within the last nine events. Additionally, Hendrick Motorsports has swept both races at the newly-reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway, after William Byon won the track’s event in March.

After triggering two separate accidents and accruing significant damage to the front end of his Jockey Chevrolet Camaro, Ross Chastain finished in the runner-up position, marking his 10th top-five finish of the season.

Austin Cindric, who tumbled down the order in the race’s initial run, rebounded to finish in third place, with Petty GMS’ Erik Jones finishing in fourth. Ryan Blaney completed the event’s top-five finishers.

Daniel Suarez, Justin Haley, and Aric Almirola finished sixth through eighth place, all recording solid top-10 results at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Cole Custer picked up his first top-10 finish of the season, finishing ninth.

Harrison Burton, in his rookie season for Wood Brothers Racing, recorded his first career top-10 finish in the NASCAR Cup Series, making him the first driver born after January 1, 2000, to record such a finish at NASCAR’s top level.

Corey LaJoie, after leading a career-high 19 laps in Sunday’s event including seven of the last nine circuits, was credited with a 21st-place finish, after being involved in an accident on the final lap, which also collected Kurt Busch.

With the victory on Sunday, Elliott leaves Atlanta Motor Speedway with a 47-point advantage on Ryan Blaney for the regular-season championship, with Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, and Kyle Busch rounding out the top five in points.

Next, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, an event that really shook up the Playoff Grid last season, with Aric Almirola’s victory. Could the series have its 14th different winner of the season, as the Playoffs rapidly approach?

Joseph Srigley
Joseph Srigley
University of Windsor | Business Administration - Supply Chain & Data Analytics Editor at

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