Chase Elliott did not qualify or practice well in NASCAR’s Cup Series return to Road America. He was so out of rhythm that he started 34th. As it turns out, all you need is to start racing to find your rhythm.
By the end of Stage 1, he was 10th. At the end of Stage 2 he was in 15th due to the way teams were pitting and a caution that froze the field at the end of Stage 2. By the end of the race, he had held off all challengers, built a huge lead and led 24 laps on his way to his 2nd season victory and cementing himself in NASCAR road course victory lore.
Road America is a 4 mile course and offered challenges other road course tracks do not. With 14 turns, it is a very technical track and keeps the drivers on their toes.
The beginning of the race saw William Byron, Kyle Larson and AJ Allmendinger fighting for the lead in Stage 1. Before we saw Elliott take over the race, we saw an entertaining battle between Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Cindric and Kyle Busch. Cindric had just retaken the lead when he broke an axle ending his day. Tyler Reddick had a decent race and won Stage 2 with a daring move around the leaders.
But after pit strategies and the caution at the end of Stage 2, Chase Elliott took off and spanked the field by nearly 6 seconds.
Kyle Busch Watch
Kyle (P3) started last after wrecking his primary car in practice. He was able to lead 4 laps but just didn’t have the speed Elliott had as his car faded at the end.
Good on ya, mate
Christopher Bell (P2) overcame a pit penalty to pass Kyle Busch and take a solid finish after a rough couple months.
Kurt Busch (P4) helped to keep his position in the playoff picture with a strong finish.
Chase Briscoe (P6), Ross Chastain (P7), Tyler Reddick (P8) and Matt DiBenedetto (P10) had a strong race and were fighting in the Top 10 most of the day.
So you had a bad day
Austin Cindric (P38) went from contender to spectator in a flash.
AJ Allmendinger (P29) was battling for the lead in Stage 1 and then fell off the face of the earth. Not the boost of confidence he was looking for as he tries to get additional Cup races in.
Kevin Harvick (P27) used to be a decent road course driver. Not this year.
Alex Bowman (P22) was running well then had brake issues just as he was near his teammates. He spun out William Byron and Kyle Larson late in the race. That’ll be a fun team meeting.
Next up is Atlanta. Harvick and Brad Keselowski both have 2 wins in the last 6 races. Ryan Blaney is the defending race winner.
Kyle Larson did everything but win the Atlanta race so he should be a strong favorite to get his sixth win. Denny Hamlin was one of the few drivers to lead laps this spring and he should do the same again. We’ll see if he has what it takes to get to Victory Lane. Matt DiBenedetto finished 11th and will be looking to repeat a good run after the momentum he got at Road America.
Silly Season gets a big boost
The sale of Chip Ganassi Racing to Trackhouse Racing will shake up the driver ranks for 2022 like no other event. Current Ganassi drivers Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain will be looking to keep their seats while keeping an eye out for any good open seat. Kurt may be contemplating retirement if he doesn’t get a good ride. Jeff Gordon’s departure from Fox and (strongly rumored) Brad Keselowski’s from Team Penske just add to the Silly Season mix right now. It also makes it interesting for Team 23XI who were looking to expand and need another charter. Stay tuned as the regular season winds down.
Turn left, go fast and keep the shiny side up! Leave your thoughts on the race and Silly Season below in the comments!
(Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)