NCS: Elliott breaks through, scores win in Charlotte

(MRN) After two crushing defeats since the re-opening of NASCAR’s 2020 season May 17 at Darlington, Chase Elliott got to the checkered flag without incident and won the rescheduled Alsco Uniforms 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at the 1.5-mile intermediate track.

In an event contested at 500 kilometers (312 miles), Elliott passed fading Kevin Harvick for the lead on Lap 181 of 208 and cruised to a 2.208-second victory over fast-closing Denny Hamlin, who passed Ryan Blaney for the runner-up position on the final lap.

The win was a welcome relief for the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, who was wrecked by Kyle Busch while running second May 20 at Darlington and was KO’d by a late caution in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on Sunday while leading with two laps left.

The start of the race was delayed from Wednesday when tropical depression Bertha invaded the Carolinas. Nor was Thursday race free from weather issues. Lightning in the area of the Concord, N.C., track interrupted the proceedings for 75 minutes after NASCAR called a caution on Lap 28 for Matt Kenseth’s spin in Turn 4. After the resumption at 9:07 p.m., Harvick had the dominant car, piling up a race-high 63 laps led.

But Harvick’s car was set up for short runs, and the final stint went long.

Blaney ran third behind Elliott and Hamlin, who was driving without the services of his crew chief, car chief and lead engineer after the team was penalized for the accidental dropping of tungsten ballast on the warm-up laps for the Coca-Cola 600.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came home fourth, posting his first top five since running third at Las Vegas before the coronavirus pandemic brought the season to a temporary halt. Kurt Busch was fifth, followed by Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Martin Truex Jr. and Harvick.

Logano won Stage 1, with Alex Bowman picking up his fourth stage win at Charlotte this week with a victory in Stage 2 after leading 51 laps. Bowman, however, clobbered the Turn 4 wall while chasing Harvick on Lap 136 and finished 31st, two laps down.

For a complete wrap-up of Thursday’s action, follow this link to the Motor Racing Network article.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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