While Chase Elliott has plenty of accomplishments to his name, he can finally add a win at Atlanta Motor Speedway to that list.
Battling through 10 cautions due to cause, four stoppages in the last 25 laps and a spirited late effort by Corey LaJoie, the Dawsonville native’s victory at the Quaker State 400 was no easy task.
The win also meant that the Elliotts became only the second father-son duo to win at AMS after the Earnhardts.
“I’m not sure my dreams really grasped something like that when I was a kid,” Elliott said. “It’s something I’m very proud of and I’m sure [my dad] is too.”
Elliott earned his first ‘hometown’ win through a consistent performance that contrasted with the on-and-off nature of the race.
After inclement weather canceled qualifying on Saturday, Elliott was able to start from pole position and establish himself in the leading pack.
Just like the spring race, there was plenty of drama to go around, as the race featured 27 lead changes among a dozen drivers.
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Early on, Elliott stayed among the top five and took his first extended lead as the first competition caution flag came out at lap 27.
He would lead uninterrupted until lap 50 but would soon take it back from friend Ryan Blaney for the remainder of Stage One.
After winning the opening stage, Elliott would begin Stage Two in eighth position and move into the lead 20 laps into the stage.
The first crash to truly disrupt the leaderboard happened with Elliott in the lead at lap 92.
A compulsory bump by Ross Chastain triggered a nine-car incident that did not involve Elliott but would take him off the lead for a long stretch.
Three yellow flags later, Elliott had worked his way back up and led the race at lap 160 as Stage Two concluded under caution.
While Elliott was busy winning the first two stages, the TV broadcast included a correspondent who was at the Dawsonville Pool Room, talking to locals who were excited to see the local man do so well.
After the race, Elliott spoke about what that meant to him.
“Any time you can carry on a tradition that your father had from his hometown, and for the people to still [gather] for me, is really neat,” Elliott said. “I’m just proud to be from here, still live here and grateful that the fans from this state have always kept me as part of the family.”
The final 100 laps would see six further cautions, with the first one taking out several contenders just a few laps into the restart following Stage Two.
With that crash scrambling much of the leaderboard, Elliott and Chastain would soon be joined up front by LaJoie, who had finished fifth in the spring race at AMS.
The No. 7 car would make the most of his time up front as those three drivers dominated the race from laps 180 to 240.
Elliott enjoyed the longest stretch up front during this time, leading from lap 205 onward.
But four more major incidents threatened to derail that momentum, with Chastain inevitably tangling with Denny Hamlin in the middle of those events.
After Christopher Bell spun out at lap 237, Martin Truex Jr grabbed his second lead of the race and held on while the Chastain and Hamlin conflict ensued at lap 247.
LaJoie would regain the lead after that restart but would soon be slowed down by a backstretch incident.
With one final restart at just three laps remaining, a frantic finish was guaranteed.
On the second lap, Elliott passed LaJoie and Chastain to retake the lead. With no other options, the No. 7 attempted to pass on the high line on the final lap but was blocked by Elliott, sending him into the wall and ending the race on a caution.
All of that late drama made the hometown win that much sweeter.
“These are moments you wish you could bottle up and keep,” Elliott said. “To be here and have a day like we had was incredible. It’s certainly one I’m going to embrace and enjoy a lot.”
Elliott led a total of 96 laps and won both stages, securing seven playoff points to go along with his 16th career Cup Series victory.
He is also the first driver to win three races this season and extended his lead atop the points standings with 684 points. After the race, he passed William Byron for most total laps led this season with 645.