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Elliott escapes Bristol chaos to finish eighth
Chase Elliott jockeys for position behind Joey Logano during Sunday’s Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

On a night that involved 14 cautions, two rain delays and a chaotic finish, Chase Elliott finished eighth at the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Elliott’s journey to another top-10 placement was winding yet strategic, with some of his best work occurring in the first few laps coming out of a caution. 

While his night ended on the upswing, Elliott’s performance ran the full spectrum of positions, running as high as fourth and as low as 26th.

The night began with wet conditions on a course that would test each driver’s strategic outlook.

From the outset, drivers were eager but cautious as they gradually adjusted to the conditions during Stage One.

As Stage Two began, drivers became confident and the caution flag came out more frequently. Meanwhile, Elliott quietly moved into the top 10 for the first time during the lap 115 caution.

With three caution flags in the previous 22 laps, Elliott burst out of the restart and worked his way up to seventh position, knowing that another incident would come soon.

By the next caution at lap 127, Elliott was in sixth position and had momentum as Stage Two neared its conclusion.

The best position Elliott found himself in all night was at the end of the second stage, running in fourth position.

At that point, the weather worsened and the race was placed in a delay that would eventually last over an hour. 

During the delay, there was a possibility of the race being called and the prospect of final positioning was brought to the attention of all drivers. 

Had the race ended there, Elliott would have finished in fourth position despite electing to take a pit stop at the end of Stage Two and lining up behind other drivers as a result. According to FOX Sports broadcaster Mike Joy, this ruling was unique to BMS.

“Towards the end of the first stage I felt like I finally kind of  halfway figured [the course] out,” Elliott said to FOX during the rain delay. “I felt like I was able to finally make some pace whenever I did get some track position.”

Eventually, the race did restart and Elliott found himself in his most challenging spot all night, coming out of the restart in the mid-20s of the pack. 

Then came an incident that would light a spark for Elliott and jumpstart his mad dash back into contention. 

During a caution on lap 170, driver Cody Ware came up behind Elliott’s right side and gave several bumps in an attempt to pass on the left, which he was unable to do. Ware would finish in 26th position.

Elliott would again work his way up the board and improve more than 10 spots over the next 50 laps, running in 13th position when a second rain delay hit with 28 laps to go.

After a short delay, Elliott made one final push at the restart to launch himself into the top 10. He was solidly in ninth position until a crash on the last lap took out Chase Briscoe and put Elliott into his final position of eighth.

That incident near the finish line involved Briscoe bumping longtime leader Tyler Reddick, who spun out briefly but recovered. Just before Reddick crossed the finish line, Kyle Busch snuck in to win his first Cup Series race of the season. 

For Elliott, his effort to finish in the top 10 kept him at the top of the NASCAR points standings at 324 points, having earned 36 points for his efforts at Bristol. 

The next race for Elliott will be another chance to win his first Cup Series race of the season, as he travels to Talladega Superspeedway for the GEICO 500 on Sunday, April 24. He won that event in 2019.