When the racing world was busy talking about ‘The Big Three’ when the 22-year-old, Chase Elliott took the his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race by a whopping 7.560 seconds over reigning champion Martin Truex Jr.
That description, however, doesn’t do justice to Elliott’s magnificent drive over the final 32 laps of Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen, with Truex hounding him every inch of the way before running out of fuel with two corners left.
The victory came with a sense of accumulating tension that was almost palpable, as Truex repeatedly closed up on Elliott in the braking zones but couldn’t make a run off the corners.
And then there was the final lap. There were audible gasps when Elliott wheel-hopped into Turn 1 and lost the six car-length advantage he had built on the second half of the 2.45-mile road course on the penultimate lap.
Elliott led the field to green for a restart on Lap 59 of 90, after race leader Kyle Busch had to return to pit road on Lap 56 to take on fuel after a snafu on the previous lap left him 10 gallons short of a full tank.
It took Truex most of Lap 59 to pass Kurt Busch for second, and by then Elliott had pulled away to a lead of more than 1.5 seconds, on the way to Chevrolet’s first victory since Austin Dillon took the checkered flag in the season-opening Daytona 500.