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Chase Elliott's win at Talladega was earned through a dramatic last-lap pass
The victory puts Elliott into the Round of 8.
Chase Elliott celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, Oct. 2. (Photo courtesy of Chris Graythern/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, Oct. 2. (Photo courtesy of Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

“It was a wild last couple laps.”

Chase Elliott sat in fifth position as a final post-caution restart loomed with two laps remaining at the Round of 12 playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway. 

He chose the inside line and took off like a rocket as the green flag waved.

Then, he made his first move.

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On the very first turn, Elliott found space beside him to move into the outside line, placing himself into third position in front of Erik Jones.

The No. 43 Chevy of Jones would help push Elliott as the Dawsonville native battled Ryan Blaney and Michael McDowell for first.

By the time the white flag waved for the final lap, Elliott was running side-by-side with his old friend Blaney.

Little separation existed in the first two turns as the roar of the crowd swelled in anticipation of a tightly-contested finish.

Blaney and Elliott fought for every inch coming down the backstretch, with McDowell giving his own considerable push to Blaney.

But it was Elliott who made the final move, getting just far enough ahead of Blaney to shift slightly to his left and create a three-wide race into the final turn.

Elliott then briefly moved in front of Blaney, all but sealing his victory as a final passing attempt by Blaney to Elliott’s right proved too late at the checkered stripe. 

“Moments like that you have to really have to cherish and you guys are what makes this special to me,” Elliott said to the raucous crowd filled with many of his supporters. “These things are so hard to win. You’ve got to enjoy them and just appreciate everyone’s effort today.”

Though Elliott led only 10 laps at the YellaWood 500, he ran near the front all day and won Stage Two.

 It was a much-needed performance for the No. 9 team, with the previous week’s race at Texas ending early with a second DNF of the playoffs.

But any frustrations from the previous race were ameliorated by a trip to victory lane at Talladega, which punched him a ticket to the Round of 8 and marked his fifth win this season.

Elliott would explain after the race that the push by Jones played a part in finding just enough time to pass by Blaney — with the final margin less than 0.05 seconds. 

“I wasn’t super crazy about being on the bottom and fortunately I got just clear enough off [Turn] 2 to slide up in front of Erik,” Elliott said. “He gave me some great shoves, obviously a team Chevy partner there.”

With the win, Elliott also shot up to the top of the playoff points standings with one race remaining in the Round of 12. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson is also currently within the top 8. 

Fellow Hendrick driver William Byron is currently the first man out and is 11 points behind the cutoff line, while Alex Bowman suffered a concussion after crashing at Texas and did not race at Talladega.

Blaney — who won Stage One at Talladega —  is now second in the standings but is still looking for his first win of the season. The cutoff line currently has a tie between Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric.

The No. 9 team will look to continue their success at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course next Sunday at the Bank of America Roval 400. The race will air at 2 p.m. on NBC.