Chase Elliott tops Kurt Busch in marathon race

A late caution set up a pit strategy decision as several of those contending for the win elected to pit for new tyres while Elliott and nine others remained on the track.

On the restart with four of 300 laps to go, Elliott easily cleared Kurt Busch for the lead with a push from Ryan Blaney and held on to earn the victory in Sunday’s race that featured more than three hours of delays for lightning and rain.

Denny Hamlin finished best among the drivers who pit, ending up sixth.

The win is Elliott’s second of the 2022 season and both have come on concrete ovals. His previous victory was at Dover Motor Speedway. It’s also the 15th win of his career.

Blaney finished third, Kyle Larson fourth and Ross Chastain rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 were Hamlin, Austin Cindric, Christopher Bell, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images

Truex edged his JGR teammate Hamlin by 0.166 seconds to take the Stage 1 win, his fourth of the season.

Hamlin started on pole and took command of the race early, rolling out two a more than 2-second lead over Larson after 10 laps, before Larson took second on Lap 25.

With 60 laps remaining in the stage, Hamlin maintained a 3.6-second lead over Suarez as Larson ran third.

Kyle Busch, who started from the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments made to his No. 18 Toyota after he wrecked in qualifying on Saturday, had moved up to 15th.

On Lap 61, Chase Briscoe got into Ty Dillon and both wrecked in Turn 2 to bring out the third caution of the race.

A handful of cars elected to pit under the caution. Hamlin led the way on the restart on Lap 66 followed by Truex, Suarez and Blaney.

Truex got a big push from Blaney on the restart to power past Hamlin on the outside and take the lead for the first time in the race.

Martin Truex Jr, Joe Gibbs Racing, Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry

Martin Truex Jr, Joe Gibbs Racing, Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

Truex again had to hold off a late charge from Hamlin to take the Stage 2 victory, his fifth of the 2022 season.

During the break between Stages 1 and 2, the lead-lap cars all pit with Logano first off pit road thanks to a two-tyre pit stop. 

Truex quickly powered back to the lead on the restart on Lap 97 as Blaney moved to second, while Cindric was forced to pit under green on Lap 101 with what he thought was a loose wheel.

On Lap 188, NASCAR displayed a caution as light rain was reported around the track, with all the lead-lap cars electing to pit with Truex first off pit road.

The race resumed on Lap 125 with Truex out front followed by Blaney and Kyle Busch, before Hamlin passed Truex and Blaney to take the lead on Lap 127.

NASCAR was forced to throw the caution on Lap 139 then place the race under a red flag as lightning again in the area of the race track. The race was 11 laps shy of the halfway mark (which would make it official) when it was halted.

After a more than 2-hour delay, the race returned to yellow and most of the lead-lap cars pit. Hamlin stayed out and remained in the lead on the restart on Lap 151.

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Pedigree Toyota Camry

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Pedigree Toyota Camry

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

Hamlin and Truex battled side-by-side for nearly two laps before Hamlin finally cleared for the lead, before Truex retook the lead with 15 laps remaining in the stage.

On the restart on Lap 193, Truex was followed by Busch, Elliott and Chastain. 

After battling side-by-side with Elliott, Busch emerged as the leader on Lap 194 for the first time in the race.

Blaney spun off Turn 4 on Lap 205 to bring out the eighth caution of the race, but did not suffer serious damage.

With 60 laps remaining, Busch remained out front with a 1.1-second advantage over Elliott with Truex in third.

On Lap 245, Elliott – who pit for new tyres on the most recent caution – ran down Busch and moved into the lead for the first time in the race.

Kyle Busch, Truex and Harvick kicked off a final round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 248 for new tyres and fuel to make it to the finish.

NASCAR displayed a caution on Lap 256 in the middle of green-flag stops after Chris Buescher’s No. 17 lost a wheel and hit the wall, while those cars who had not yet made their final stop did so under the caution. Busch stayed out and inherited the lead.

On the restart on Lap 262, Busch was followed by Elliott, Truex, Hamlin and Chastain, before Elliott powered around the leader on the inside to reclaim the lead.

The late caution and subsequent pit strategy calls spoiled what had been a tremendous race by Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, who led 250 of the 300 laps. Hamlin led the most with 114.