Chase Elliott crowned 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion

Chase Elliott crowned 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion
Chase Elliott celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway, Nov. 8.
PHOENIX, NOV 9 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 11/9/2020 1:17:48 PM IST

Chase Elliott is a NASCAR Cup Series champion. Elliott had the best car throughout Sunday’s title race at Phoenix Raceway and easily cruised to his first Cup Series title over Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin.

Elliott, 24, passed Logano for the race win and the championship with 42 laps to go and set sail as the three drivers he was racing for the title couldn’t come close to mounting a challenge. Elliott led 153 laps, the most of any driver.

The championship is Elliott’s first and will likely make him the first driver since his father, Bill, in 1988 to win the Cup Series title in the same season where he was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver. Chase Elliott has been NASCAR’s most popular driver for the past two seasons and is a shoo-in for his third straight.

Elliott had to start at the back of the field on Sunday after his car failed inspection multiple times. But he moved his way to the front quickly and took the lead for the first time on lap 79 of the 312 lap race.

Keselowski finished second, while Logano was third and Hamlin was fourth. Elliott’s teammate and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson was fifth in his final NASCAR Cup Series start as a full-time driver.

Elliott’s number was fluorescent yellow in honor of Johnson on Sunday. And the young driver broke down in tears in his car as he realized that he had become a Cup Series champ.

The Elliott family is just the third to have a father-son combination to win Cup Series titles. The Pettys were the first with Lee and Richard, and Dale Jarrett joined his father, Ned, when he won the 1999 Cup Series title.

It was clear to Elliott that the reality of being a Cup Series champion was sinking in after he climbed from his car in front of the grandstands.

“To win and lock the championship, this is moments you can only dream of,” Elliott said. “This is a dream. I’m just hoping I don’t ever wake up.”

After he got out from his car, Elliott embraced his car owner Rick Hendrick and Johnson at the same time. Hendrick is the winningest owner in NASCAR history; he’s fielded championship cars for Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Johnson and now Elliott.

No one was a match for Elliott

Logano was ahead of Elliott in the final stage of the race because he pitted a lap earlier to take advantage of fresh tires. But Elliott quickly ran him down and made the pass for the lead look easy.

It was all customary after that. Elliott’s margin of victory at the end was over three seconds as the other three title contenders were left wishing for a late caution flag for a chance at a restart. It wasn’t a crazy wish either. The Truck Series and Xfinity Series title races had come down to two-lap restarts on Friday and Saturday night. But there was no reason for NASCAR to throw a caution over the last 100-plus laps of Sunday’s Cup Series race.

The win was Elliott’s second straight and his fifth of the season. 

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