Chase Elliott’s stirring drive to victory in Sunday’s Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart clinched a weekend sweep for Georgia drivers at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
One day after Winston, Georgia’s Austin Hill scored an Alsco Uniforms 250 win, Elliott – a native of Dawsonville, Georgia – delivered his home track one of its most unforgettable triumphs. He passed Corey LaJoie for the lead on the penultimate lap and withstood a late bid for victory from Ross Chastain. A last-lap crash eliminated LaJoie and brought out the caution flag that made sure Elliott’s lifelong dream of winning at Atlanta was finally realized.
LaJoie began to catch Elliott as the two cars started the final lap and was poised to go for a pass, but Elliott threw a block that led LaJoie to go high. LaJoie’s reaction resulted in his No. 7 Chevrolet being forced into the wall, and the ensuing yellow flag with Elliott out front meant that a raucous crowd of fans could finally roar their approval. Chastain settled for second with Austin Cindric third. Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five.
Daniel Suarez finished sixth with Justin Haley seventh, Aric Almirola eighth, Cole Custer ninth and Harrison Burton 10th. LaJoie ended up 21st after nearly scoring his first career NASCAR Cup Series win.
Instead, Elliott collected his long-awaited first Atlanta victory in what was, appropriately, the ninth attempt for the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet. Elliott and his father, Bill – who won five times at Atlanta – joined Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the second father-son duo to win at AMS.
Elliott started from the pole and also won Stages 1 and 2 en route to the 16th win of his career.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET (RACE WINNER): “It’s been a whirlwind. These are the moments you wish you can pile up and keep, but it doesn’t work like that. This is a place I spent a ton of time at as a kid, a lot of trips here from north Georgia, running Bandoleros. The big track just seemed so out of reach then, like it wasn’t even real. To be here and have a day like we had today is incredible. We’ll be ready to go to Loudon in a few days, but these wins are hard to come by. I’ve witnessed guys winning at their home tracks and you can tell it means a lot to them, but until you compete in the sport at these higher stages, you can really feel what it means, and I’m grateful for it. Those (father-son accomplishments) are more than special. I’m not sure that my dreams really grasped something like that when I was a kid. I’m not sure I got far enough as a kid to even think about joining dad as a champion, or joining dad on the father-son list to win. It’s something I’m proud of, and I think he is, too.”
ALAN GUSTAFSON NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET (WINNING CREW CHIEF): Fortunately for us, we hit (the setup). I didn’t do a good job on the strategy in the spring race, but we learned from that this time. This week was tough. Coming in with no practice, we were talking early in the week about how we didn’t know what to expect. We probably had the best car today and to finish it off means a lot.”
RICK HENDRICK, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS CHAIRMAN (WINNING CAR OWNER): “Well, (Elliott) is on a roll. He was awfully close (to winning) last week, and he brought this one home. Now, it looks like they’re really poised to move on (and fight for the championship). This is a tough, tough business. It’s not easy to win these races, and I know it means a lot to him to win at his home track. It’s a great day. He’s a very smart driver. Very seldom does he make a mistake. Winning is what we’re here for, and we’re going to celebrate with Chase.”
JEFF GORDON, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS VICE-CHAIRMAN (WINNING CO-OWNER): “I go back to the focus I saw in (Elliott) before the race, and just listening to him on the radio. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Eddie D’Hondt, his spotter, too, and (crew chief) Alan Gustafson. Those guys had to manage tires, fuel mileage, a lot of things. It was pretty obvious early on that once he was in the first few rows, he could get to the front and manage the lead. Chase is an amazing superspeedway racer and what I like about this track is you’ve got a good combination of superspeedway and a handling track, which probably plays to Chase’s advantage.”
ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 JOCKEY CHEVROLET (RUNNER-UP): “I got a little bit of a run on Austin (Hill) and I saw Daniel (Hemric) dive down to the bottom (on the last lap). My spotter and I were a bit too conservative there at the end. All in all, it was a great day for the Harrison’s USA Chevy. To get a second-place finish and a stage win, it’s a good day. This superspeedway-style racing was different. I haven’t finished a lot of these races, honestly, so we got a lot of good information to take home for Daytona. No marks on the car today. We’ll take it.”