At the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 24, another last-lap crash altered the final results and placed Chase Elliott into a top-10 finish for the seventh time this season.
The bulk of the race was very different for Elliott compared to the previous week’s Bristol race, where he gradually worked his way up the leaderboard.
Despite starting in 28th position, Elliott quickly established himself as a contender at the race he won three years ago.
By lap 25, Elliott was firmly in the top 10 and would continue to move up. After briefly running in the top five, Elliott would finish Stage One in sixth position and stay around there for the next 30 laps or so.
Just before lap 90, Elliott made a move that would push him into second position. Despite two cautions in the next several laps, Elliott would maintain his track position until the end of Stage Two at lap 120.
It was after the second stage caution that Elliott fell back in the field and needed to work his way back up.
After maintaining a top-10 position for the next 30 laps or so, he would fall back as far as 15th until making a roaring comeback in the final 20 laps.
At lap 170, Elliott took the high line and burst into the top-10 once more, improving six positions in the next five laps alone.
As other drivers attempted to make moves and shuffle the lead pack of drivers, Elliott stayed out of trouble but needed help to maintain his position. After getting as far up as fourth position at lap 176, he was back in ninth by lap 178.
The frantic final 10 laps gave little room for error for drivers, who all experienced significant position changes in the space of a few laps.
Elliott had a tough time finding an angle in those closing laps, with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson attempting a last-minute maneuver to take the lead.
In the end, Elliott managed to escape the final lap chaos, which took the lead away from then-leader Erik Jones and affected the positions of Larson and fellow teammate William Byron, who led the most laps during the race.
Elliott would finish in seventh position after having been around tenth for the final two laps. Ross Chastain won the race while Larson finished fourth and teammate Alex Bowman finished ninth. Byron finished in 15th position.
With the two strong stage positions and another top-10 final result, Elliott extended his lead atop the NASCAR Cup Standings with 368 points. He is now 21 points ahead of Ryan Blaney and 34 points ahead of Byron.
Elliott will continue his search for a first victory of the season next Sunday at Dover Motor Speedway.