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NASCAR at Watkins Glen: Results, 3 takeaways from Chase Elliott’s 1st Cup Series win

Chase Elliott has been a racing fan favorite long before Sunday’s first NASCAR Cup Series victory.
Chase Elliott has been a racing fan favorite long before Sunday’s first NASCAR Cup Series victory. AP

Chase Elliott won the Go Bowling at the Glen Sunday, his first career Cup Series victory, but there are other implications from the race as well. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen International:

1. The significance of a Chase Elliott breakthrough

It only took 99 tries, but NASCAR’s prodigal son finally has his first Cup Series win. Thanks to the famous name of his Hall of Fame father, Bill, Chase Elliott has been a fan favorite long before his first victory in NASCAR’s top circuit. Like his father before him, Chase languished with eight runner-up finishes before finally taking his first checkered, but the hope is that now his career path will mirror his father’s. NASCAR drivers and executives have long sung Chase’s praises, and with the recent void of star power, it would be a boon for the sport if Chase developed into the star he has been billed as. One step in the right direction first.

2. Martin Truex Jr.’s hot streak continues even in defeat

Never mind that Truex ran out of fuel in the race’s waning laps, or that he ultimately finished in second place for the fourth time this season. In his last seven races, Truex has finished outside of the Top 4 once. One single time. He’s got two firsts, two seconds, two fourths and an outlier of 15th over that stretch. And in the five races before that, another win, two seconds and a fourth (plus a random 18th in Michigan). Point is, Truex has been 2017-level dominant since May, and even though he failed to pick up his fifth win this season, Sunday’s outcome gave no reason to suggest he’s cooling off.

3. Does Elliott’s win actually affect the rest of the season?

To be blunt, not really. Is it a nice story? Absolutely. Chase is prepped to become NASCAR’s next Most Popular Driver, following in the footsteps of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his father Bill before that. People in the sport – fans, executives, other drivers, media personalities – all seem to want to see him succeed, which is encouraging to take in. That said, unless he miraculously starts ripping off wins into the playoffs, Sunday’s result doesn’t really make a difference for this season. The Big 3 have seemingly already locked themselves into an unbreakable tier. But what Sunday could be, especially looking back? The beginning of a much more impressive career for the young Chase Elliott.

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Like his father, Bill Elliott (at right), before him, Chase Elliott languished with eight runner-up finishes before finally taking his first NASCAR Cup Series checkered flag. Julie Jacobson AP

Go Bowling at The Glen

The full race results, from the Associated Press:

Sunday At Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Lap length: 2.45 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (3) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 90.

2. (4) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 90.

3. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 90.

4. (21) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 90.

5. (9) Erik Jones, Toyota, 90.

6. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 90.

7. (14) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 90.

8. (16) William Byron, Chevrolet, 90.

9. (36) Kurt Busch, Ford, 90.

10. (15) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 90.

11. (18) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 90.

12. (11) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 90.

13. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 90.

14. (22) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 90.

15. (8) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 90.

16. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 90.

17. (17) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 90.

18. (12) Michael McDowell, Ford, 90.

19. (19) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 90.

20. (20) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 90.

21. (10) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 90.

22. (7) Aric Almirola, Ford, 90.

23. (30) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 90.

24. (27) Parker Kligerman, Toyota, 90.

25. (29) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 89.

26. (25) David Ragan, Ford, 89.

27. (24) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 89.

28. (37) Paul Menard, Ford, 89.

29. (26) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 89.

30. (13) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 89.

31. (35) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 88.

32. (32) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, Suspension, 77.

33. (28) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 75.

34. (31) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 73.

35. (34) Spencer Gallagher, Toyota, 73.

36. (33) Josh Bilicki, Ford, Electrical, 69.

37. (6) Joey Logano, Ford, Accident, 1.

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Chase Elliott is prepped to become NASCAR’s next Most Popular Driver, following in the footsteps of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his father Bill before that. Julie Jacobson AP

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 98.928 mph.

Time of Race: 2 hours, 13 minutes, 44 seconds. Margin of Victory: 7.560 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 4 for 11 laps.

Lead Changes: 9 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders: D. Hamlin 1; Kyle Busch 2-17; M. Truex Jr. 18-21; J. Johnson 22; Kyle Busch 23-26; C. Elliott 27-44; Kyle Busch 45-54; D. Hamlin 55; Kyle Busch 56; C. Elliott 57-90.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): C. Elliott 2 times for 52 laps; Kyle Busch 4 times for 31 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 4 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 2 laps; J. Johnson 1 time for 1 lap.

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