Sunday’s Go Bowling 235 marked the NASCAR Cup Series’ historic return to road course racing in Daytona Beach and it’s first-ever running at the DAYTONA Road Course. Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports, took full advantage of the opportunity by notching his second win of the 2020 campaign. The historic triumph was Elliott’s fourth career victory on a road course, and also his third straight road course win dating back to 2019 at Watkins Glen International and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL.
“A win at Daytona is special,” said Elliott, who is still looking for his first win on Daytona’s high-banked 2.5-mile tri-oval. “Alan (Gustafson, Elliott’s crew chief who is from nearby Ormond Beach) and I were joking that they had to change the track to a road course for us to win at Daytona. I think there was a lot of effort that went into it to get this road course done and completed in time. Appreciate Daytona and everyone who worked on the facility to turn it that fast.”
Elliott was dominant throughout the entirety of Sunday afternoon’s 65-lap affair on the 3.61-mile, 14-turn road course, made famous by The Rolex 24, North American’s premier sports car race. He led 34 laps while the race itself saw 13 lead changes among six different drivers. Three-time DAYTONA 500 Champion Denny Hamlin led much of Stage 1 before pitting under green after a tire rub on Lap 10 and Elliott was in position to take the Stage 1 win.
The beginning of Stage 2 saw Martin True Jr. charging to the front, appearing to be the most dominant driver at the time before being penalized late in the stage for speeding on pit road. Hamlin took home the Stage 2 win, leading the field to green at the beginning of Stage 3 just before the race saw its one and only red flag due to lightning in the area.
The Go Bowling 235 went green again with 26 laps remaining with Elliott opening a seven-second lead with 20 laps to go. After a series of green flag pit stops throughout the field, Elliott shuffled back to the front with 12 to go, securing a lead he would not surrender. Elliott opened up a lead of more than 10 seconds in front of Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson before a late-race caution for an incident with Kyle Busch. The field took the green flag for its final restart with three laps remaining and Elliott successfully held off a surging Hamlin, who finished second. Truex Jr., Johnson and Chris Buescher rounded out the top-five.
“If you do your part and execute from the driver’s side, you should be able to make it mistake free,” Elliott said of the pressure of the late-race restart and holding off Hamlin. Fortunately, I was able to get a good jump, had a good turn one and tried to just fall into rhythm. I tried not to overdrive it. Denny was being aggressive on corner entry and I focused on my exits, trying to control that gap to him. Fortunately it all worked out.”
With the win, Elliott, the 24-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia, native has established himself as a force in the series when it comes to these races.
“I think he (Elliott) takes a little bit of untraditional lines, I think he does a great job of staying out of the rubber and I think his car really does a lot of good things that you would like for your car to do,” Hamlin said when asked about Elliott’s road course racing ability. “They really have a great road course setup and he executes it. That’s going to equal a lot of success so it’s up to us to kind of figure it out.”
Elliott will get a chance to make history yet again in just two weeks from now as the Cup Series returns to the high banks of the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. Set for Saturday, Aug. 29, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 will be the final race of the regular season ahead of the 2020 Cup Series Playoffs.
With just three races remaining in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season, the field of 16 is taking shape ahead of the 2020 playoffs. Kevin Harvick sits atop the standings with six wins on the season, followed by Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Elliott. William Byron is in the 16th and final position with a 25-point lead over his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Johnson. Still winless on the season, the seven-time Cup Series champion Johnson will look to secure a late-season victory to lock himself into the playoffs for his final season as a fulltime Cup Series competitor.
A limited number of fans will get the opportunity to see the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Fans can get tickets, which start at $49 (both races included) for adults and $10 for kids 12 years old and younger, by visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or calling 1-800-PIT-SHOP.
Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.
About Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway is a state-of-the-art motorsports facility and was awarded the SportsBusiness Journal’s prestigious Sports Business Award for Sports Facility of the Year in 2016. Daytona International Speedway is the home of “The Great American Race” – the DAYTONA 500. Though the season-opening NASCAR Cup Series event garners most of the attention – as well as the largest audience in motorsports – the approximately 500-acre motorsports complex, also known as the “World Center of Racing,” boasts the most diverse schedule of racing on the globe. In addition to at least nine major event weekends, the Speedway grounds are also used extensively for events that include concerts, civic and social gatherings, car shows, photo shoots, production vehicle testing and police motorcycle training.