Sunday's motors: Chase Elliott gets Chevy first win of season
Talladega, Ala. — Chase Elliott won the Cup Series race Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, giving Chevrolet its first victory of the season.
Elliott took the lead shortly after a restart with four laps to go and worked with three other Chevy drivers to hold off the rest of the field. He won for the first time since October and went to victory lane about 100 miles from his hometown in Georgia.
Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman finished second, followed by rookie Ryan Preece, Joey Logano and another rookie, Daniel Hemric.
Elliott is from about three hours away in Dawsonville, Georgia. His Hall of Fame father Bill Elliott won twice at Talladega.
“Dad’s history, obviously very cool,” Chase Elliott said. “To me the biggest piece of today was just how much of a home race it felt like after the race. I was blown away by the people and how fired up everybody was. That was an unbelievable experience. We are close to home, so that’s cool, and they made me feel that way.
“I couldn’t ask for much more there.”
Elliott is the sixth driver to win through 10 Cup races this season and locked up a playoff spot.
Elliott credited a meeting with all Chevy drivers for the late-race teamwork.
The race ended under caution after David Ragan hit William Byron, who tagged Kyle Larson and sent him sliding across the track. Larson then flipped half a dozen times before coming to a stop.
“It was a little bit scary, but thankfully I’m all right,” Larson said.
The 2019 aerodynamics package had cars reaching higher speeds than NASCAR wanted in practice, so officials tried to slow them down with a late rules tweak. But the changes made the cars go even faster, leaving many veterans wary of the closing speeds and potential for chaos and high-speed crashes.
But the race was mostly wreck-free — until the final lap.
Elliott’s victory ended a seven-race winning streak for Ford at Talladega. Penske Racing had won six of the last nine.
But it was a Chevy celebration — for a change.
Valtteri Bottas held off Lewis Hamilton before cruising to victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan, to continue Mercedes’ dominance of the title race.
That was the fourth straight one-two finish for Mercedes, the best start to a season by a two-car team in Formula One history.
“It obviously means a lot. It’s incredible as a team the kind of level we are performing at now,” Bottas said. “It’s only my fifth win so of course it feels great.”
Bottas was challenged by teammate Hamilton at the start but held on to the lead after they battled through the opening two corners.
Bottas took over the championship lead by a single point from Hamilton, who took second place behind the Finn.
It was Bottas’ second victory in four races this year after a winless 2018.
At Concord, N.C., Shawn Langdon won the Funny Car title in the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals to become the second driver to win in both the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories at zMAX Dragway and the 17th in NHRA history with wins in both categories.
Langdon, a 14-time winner in Top Fuel and a former season champion, won in his 30th Funny Car start. He had a run of 4.125-seconds at 305.08 mph in the final in a Toyota Camry. Robert Hight was second, followed by John Force and Matt Hagan.
Steve Torrence won in Top Fuel, and Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Defending season champion Torrence raced to his first victory of the season and third in a row in the event with a 3.778 at 323.19. Clay Millican was second, followed by Terry McMillen and Leah Pritchett.
Hines became the first Pro Stock Motorcycle rider to reach 50 victories, edging Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec with a 6.831 at 198.17.