In his second race at Atlanta Motor Speedway this season, Chase Elliott finished the Quaker State 400 in seventh place.
Elliott started the race on Sunday, July 11 in the pole position after winning the July 4 race. He held the lead for 12 laps until Kyle Busch passed him. Denny Hamlin took over second place from Elliott on lap 24.
During the competition caution, Elliott had a slow pit stop after being forced to reverse back into his pit box for going over the line. Elliott dropped 17 spots, restarting the race in 19th place. Another caution happened three laps later and Elliott fell out of the top 20.
During the race NBC sports announcers reported that Elliott told crew chief Alan Gufstafson his car wouldn’t turn properly and “felt a lot of banging.” He got back into the top 20 on lap 47 and finished Stage One in 19th place.
Pit stop woes continued for Elliott between stages. He made slight contact with a tire man from Cole Custer’s pit crew, the team behind Elliott on pit road. The tire man was reported injury-free from the incident though.
The turning issues seemed to dissipate after that pit stop, and Elliott surged back to 14th place by lap 121 when he took a green flag pit stop. Returning to the track in 22nd, Elliott raced better than before, making it as high as 12th place on lap 140 and finishing Stage Two in 15th.
Prior to the start of the final stage, there was a 19-minute red flag stop for a hole in the middle of the track. Atlanta Motor Speedway’s track crew stuffed mashed asphalt into the hole and the race restarted. It seemed the pause would bring pending weather closer to the track but there was never more than a light rain for less than 10 minutes.
On lap 184, Elliott made his way back into the top 10 for the first time since the competition caution. He continued to surge and was in 8th place five laps later. Elliott stayed in eighth until his last green flag pit stop on lap 209. He came back onto the track in 14th, but by the time every driver took their trip to pit road, Elliott sat in 7th place, staying there until the end of the race.
The finish was good enough for Elliott to keep his 5th place slot in the playoff standings, behind Sunday’s winner Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman.
Seventh place is Elliott’s second-best career finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Earlier this season, Elliott did not finish the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway after experiencing engine failure.
With this win, Busch became the 12th driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race this season. The NASCAR Cup Series will continue Sunday, July 18 at the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The race starts at 3 p.m.