Chase Elliott scored his first career NASCAR Cup Series All-Star win under the lights on Wednesday at Bristol Motor Speedway. Elliott, piloting the No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet with amber under glow lights, led 60 of the 140 circuits en route to the victory.
“There’s nothing like Bristol. There’s nothing like the lights here. There’s nothing like racing here,” Elliott told FS1 after the race. “I’ve never won here – what a race to do it. Just really proud of our team tonight and rebounding. We’ve had a really tough couple of weeks and just felt like we had kind of gotten off base and I felt like I was struggling. Just tried to hit the reset button this week, and came out and put on a great performance – great car. Just can’t thank all our partners enough, everybody that makes this happen.”
Kyle Busch finished 0.418 seconds behind Chase Elliott to claim the runner-up spot. Busch, a previous NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race winner, started 10th on the leaderboard in his No. 18 Toyota with red under glow lights.
“It just wasn’t quite wide enough. If it had been a little bit wider and you could carry a little more speed with it, I might have had a chance,” said Busch after the race. “I tried to run up there early in the last stage to make it go a little earlier than I probably should have. I went back down because I knew I wasn’t going to catch him (Chase Elliott) or pass him there and I had to do something different. I just tried and I think we inched up a little closer on him, but that was about it.”
The Las Vegas native leaves the 0.533-mile concrete oval with his sixth top five All-Star race finish in 14 starts.
Elliott, from the state of Georgia, entered the exhibition All-Star race with one top five and three top 10 finishes through four starts.
“There’s no feeling like it (cheering from the crowd). There’s nothing like it – this speaks for itself,” Elliott continued. “And like I said, Bristol is an electric atmosphere that is unlike any other that we go to. Couldn’t be more excited. We’re going to celebrate this one for sure. And we’ll take that million dollars back to Georgia, why don’t we!”
Kevin Harvick, leading six laps of the event, rounded out the top three finishers on Wednesday.
Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.
Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top 10.
Ryan Blaney appeared to have a strong car until the team elected to stay out while everyone else came to pit road at the end of stage two. Blaney was able to hold the lead until eventual race winner Chase Elliott took the top spot away with 31 laps remaining. They later stayed out at the end of stage three and fell all the way to finish seventh in the final 15-lap segment.
Three drivers raced their way into the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race via finishes in the open. Aric Almirola got into the main show by winning stage one while William Byron claimed stage two of that race. Matt DiBenedetto, piloting the No. 21 Wood Brother’s Racing Ford, won the final segment of the open to advance into the All-Star race. Clint Bowyer, piloting the No. 14 Ford, earned his way in via the fan vote.
Michael McDowell started on the pole for the open and was caught up in an incident that involved Bubba Wallace and William Byron early. McDowell and Byron continued while Wallace was done for the night.
McDowell went on to finish seventh in the open while Wallace finished 21st because of the crash.
Top 10 in NASCAR Cup Series open: Matt DiBendetto, Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Michael McDowell, John Hunter Nemechek, Corey LaJoie and Tyler Reddick.
The series will move onto the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 19 at 3:00 p.m. ET. The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 will air live on NBCSN and PRN Radio.