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NASCAR: Third place finish at Dover International Speedway puts Chase Elliott back on track
Chase Elliott drives through the pack of cars during the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, May 17. Elliott finished the race in third place. Photo by James Gilbert for

Chase Elliott finished the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, May 17, in third place, earning his fifth top-5 finish of the 2021 season. 

“I really felt like our NAPA team was pretty close today, balance-wise,” Elliott said after the race. “It was just kind of a matter of how your restart went and where you fell in line, unfortunately for us.”

Elliott’s teammate Alex Bowman won the race after Kyle Larson, another teammate, led for the majority of the 400 laps. They were just the third organization in NASCAR Cup Series history to have teammates finish first, second, third and fourth in a race. William Byron finished fourth. 

“I’m happy for Hendrick Motorsports,” Elliott said. “I don’t know when the last time that finish has happened. It’s probably been a while for any team.”

Elliott had to start Sunday’s race at the back of the pack after an issue with his pre-race inspection. He quickly got back into the top 20 by lap 25. 

During the competition caution at lap 35, Elliott said he was happy with the way his car was handling. He gained five spots on pit road, moving into 11th place on the restart. He kept moving forward and finished the stage in fourth place. 

Elliott started stage two in third place and took over second place with ease. He stayed in second for the next 40 laps before a yellow flag caution. He chose to restart behind his teammate Larson, giving up second place momentarily, but wasted no time gaining the spot back. He finished the stage in second place. 

Once again, Elliott chose to restart behind Larson but was unable to take second place back so easily on this restart. By the next yellow flag caution on lap 302, Elliott was running in fourth place. 

The pit crew had another quick pit stop during the caution and brought Elliott back up to second place for the restart. Elliott was passed by teammate Bowman on the restart and stayed in third place until the end of the race. 

Elliott now sits in seventh place in regular season points, hopping back over Kevin Harvick, who took the spot from him last week. Elliott is the second highest driver in Cup Series points without a win in the 2021 season, but with 10 individual NASCAR race winners already this season, he finds himself in 12th in the playoff picture. The top 16 drivers advance to the Cup Series playoffs. 

The NASCAR Cup Series continues next Sunday, May 23 with the Echopark Texas Grand Prix at the Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas. The race starts at 2:30 p.m.