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Elliott records first win of season at rain-delayed Dover race
Chase Elliott celebrates after winning the DuraMAX Drydene 400 at Dover Motor Speedway on Monday, May 2. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

(Note: This NASCAR race was delayed into Monday due to weather, pushing its conclusion past this week’s print deadline.)

Chase Elliott can now breathe a huge sigh of relief.

For the first time this season, the Dawsonville man found himself in front of everyone at the checkered flag, winning the DuraMAX Drydene 400 at Dover Motor Speedway on Monday, May 2.

“I’m just proud of our team for sticking with it,” Elliott said. “We’ve had a lot of pace at different times throughout the year [but] we just hadn’t put an entire race together until today. It was nice to do that today.”

In the 10 months since his previous NASCAR Cup Series win, Elliott had battled his way into countless top-10 positions and had several runs at the front of packs. 

But he would have to watch as his Hendrick Motorsports teammates found victory on several occasions. 

While Elliott was the last man on his team without a win in the 2022 season, his patience had placed him as leader of the points standings with seven top-10 finishes in the first 10 races of the year.

That patience would be tested further after the Dover race was cut short on Sunday, May 1, due to rain and had to be pushed into Monday.

As Monday’s restart began, Elliott made sure he would be right where he needed to be during the entire race, rarely finding himself outside the top five.

The race restarted with over 300 laps left, giving Elliott plenty of time to place himself in a strong position. After finishing Stage One in second place, he continued to hang around the top four until the end of Stage Two.

A caution shortly before the end of Stage Two shuffled the pack and put Elliott on the back half of the top 10, having his only significant time outside the top five between laps 250 and 300.

By the lap 325 caution, Elliott was back in fourth place and had one of his most efficient pit stops of the season at that point, coming out of it in third.

From then, it was a fight for first between Elliott and Ross Chastain, whose back-and-forth battle created a memorable sequence. One final caution at lap 343 would set up Elliott with a chance to take the outright lead.

The final 50 laps at Dover were tense, with three drivers jockeying for position just behind Elliott. 

Yet Elliott was as solid and smooth as he had been all afternoon, gradually increasing the gap between him and the others until there was little doubt to him clinching his fourteenth career win in the Cup Series.

“This one means a lot in a lot of different ways,” Elliott said. “Proud of our team, proud of Alan [Gustafson] and our entire group for continuing to bring good attitudes to the race track and coming in with the right mindset every week regardless of what happened the week before.”

With the victory, Elliott extended his lead atop the points standings, with his 418 points a full 50 clear of second-place Ryan Blaney. Elliott is now third in the playoff standings behind Chastain and teammate William Byron, who have each won twice this season.