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Start at rear does not faze Elliott in fifth-place finish at Darlington
Despite crashing his car at practice and starting Sunday’s race in 34th with a backup car, Chase Elliott finished fifth at the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo Courtesy of NBC Sports) - photo by Rio White

Coming off his first win of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season at Dover, Chase Elliott had himself a challenging start to his day in the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, May 8.

But before that race, Elliott had won a rain-delayed race at Dover on Monday, May 2. 

He took charge of the final 50 laps and fended off challenges from Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ross Chastain and Christopher Bell.

It was Elliott's first victory in 10 months and helped him increase his lead in the NASCAR points standings.

During Saturday’s practice run at Darlington, Elliott crashed after cutting his left rear tire, forcing him to use a backup car.  As a result, he had to begin Sunday’s race in 34th position.

But the man who had 8 top-10 finishes in the first 11 races of the season had no interest in letting his initial position prevent him from having a positive day on the track.

Elliott worked his way into the top 20 just 60 laps into the 293-lap race, gradually gaining spots until reaching 15th position at the end of Stage One.

One of the turning points of Elliott’s day came during a pit stop sequence around lap 140.

He was in the first half of drivers to pit and came out of it quickly, allowing him to rapidly move up once the other half shuffled into pit road.

By the time the whole field got back onto the track, Elliott was up to 11th and only moved up from there.

A caution involving Kyle Busch gave Elliott the chance to solidify his top-10 position and he would then earn himself points by placing in eighth at the conclusion of Stage Two.

The move that brought Elliott closest to the lead pack was on lap 221, when he took the inside line to push past Christopher Bell and Daniel Suarez to move into fifth. 

While Elliott’s position would vary slightly for the remainder of the race, the late bump and run by eventual winner Joey Logano on William Byron put Elliott back into fifth at the checkered flag.

By finishing in the top five, Elliott further extended his stay atop the points standings with 453. Tied for second place are Byron and Ryan Blaney with 388.