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NASCAR: Elliott avoids late carnage at Talladega, earns first stage win of the season
Ross Chastain pushes Chase Elliott during the running of the NASCAR Cup Series Geico 500 on April 23, 2023, at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, AL. (Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In his second race since returning from injury, Chase Elliott drove at the track he last won a NASCAR Cup Series race at — Talladega Superspeedway.

While Elliott did not qualify in a great spot — 29th — for this year’s GEICO 500, he caught an early break that would send him toward the front of the pack early in the race. 

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During the first cycle of green-flag pit stops around lap 44, Elliott was still out on the track when a caution flag came out for a car stuck on pit road with damage.

Elliott was able to ride out the next 20 laps or so, earning the Stage One win — his first of the season. 

He proved to have decent to strong speed for the rest of the race, finishing in a close second position at the end of Stage Two to further recover some position in the wider points standings. 

Later on, Elliott remained near the edge of the top 10 and managed to avoid three late major incidents that happened within the last 10 laps of the race. 

After Corey LaJoie and Joey Logano got tangled up around lap 185, Elliott narrowly avoided a much larger incident involving Ross Chastain, Noah Gragson and Kyle Larson.

Though Elliott had a brief chance to get back into the top 10 on the second overtime restart, another incident on the final lap caused him to play it safe and finish in 12th position.

Because of his Stage One win and Stage Two-runner up position, Elliott ended the race with 44 points — four more than race-winner Kyle Busch.

Busch was able to make a last-lap pass to win the GEICO 500 after a series of blocks by Bubba Wallace on Ryan Blaney resulted in Wallace spinning himself out and causing a wider incident, ending the race on yellow flag. 

Elliott looks to continue his renewed season next week at Dover International Speedway — the track where he won his first race of the 2022 season. The Würth 400 is scheduled on Sunday, April 30, for a 2:00 p.m. start on FS1.