Despite slamming the No. 9 NAPA Chevy ZL1 Camaro straight into the tire barrier of turn one – known as the Tums Heartburn Turn – on the lap 66 re-start, Chase Elliott brought home the checkered flag from the Bank of America 400 Roval on Sunday, Sept. 29.
After pitting to repair the damage, Elliott re-entered the race at the tail-end of the pack in thirty-seventh. Taking advantage of a quartet of caution flags over the final thirty laps, he quickly maneuvered back into the top-five, briefly taking the lead on lap 78, and took the lead for good on lap 104 of 109 to cross the finish line 3/016 seconds ahead of teammate Alex Bowman.
Kevin Harvick, who led the race for 34 laps overall, finished third, followed by Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski. William Byron, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Jimmie Johnson and defending series champion Joey Logano rounded out the top-ten.
The win marked Elliott’s first at Charlotte Motor Speedway, his third of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and his sixth career victory and garnered his team six valuable points to carry into the second round of the post-season.
“What a mistake. Holy moly. You talk about messing something up, right here. Don’t do that,” Elliott said. “The guys just didn’t quit. It was unbelievable, they fixed the thing the right-away …They made sure they did it the right way and got us a win.”
Elliott was in control of the race for most of the day, leading a race high 35 laps. He finished ninth in the first stage and slipped into the lead with only four laps remaining in stage two to secure the green and white checkered flag over Keselowski.
“We had such a fast NAPA Camaro ZL1 and honestly, that was the only reason we were able to get back in,” Elliott said. “A win is awesome. It doesn’t get any better than that. There’s no feeling like winning one of these races. … We’ll take this one back to Georgia.”
Bowman’s second place finish was equally impressive as he overcame an abundance of adversity to advance in the playoffs as the last driver in the field of twelve. Having crashed during the final laps of Saturday’s practice session, Bowman started from last place in a back-up car.
Halfway through the first lap of the race he lost control of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy in the chicane, falling even further behind. After working himself back into the middle of the line-up he was spun a second time when he got caught up in a six-car incident that started when Kurt Busch smacked into the rear of Chris Buescher.
Finally, Bowman purposely made contact with Bubba Wallace, spinning him out of the chicane after Wallace allegedly made a series of rude hand gestures at Bowman during lap 42.
On top of all of that, he was racing with the flu in temperatures that soared over 120 degrees in the cars.
“I mean probably about lap 10 of the race, I was pretty done and out of it just from a physical standpoint. I just tried to keep digging and obviously, I tried to give it away on lap 1,” Bowman said. “I’m just proud of our guys today and just really focused on moving forward and being good this weekend in Dover.”
Entering the race Truex Jr., Harvick and Kyle Busch were the only three drivers locked into the second round. Elliott and Bowman, with the top-two spots secured their spots along with Keselowski, Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Bowyer, Byron, and Blaney.
Over the next three races, starting with the Drydene 400 at Dover on Sunday, Oct. 6, the field of twelve will be whittled down to eight drivers before the final run to Homestead.