Chase Elliott Backs Up Pole with First #MENCS Win
The Can-Am Duel 1 Provide a Bit More Excitement that the Second One.
Chase Elliott kicked off Speedweeks last Sunday by scoring his consecutive Daytona 500 pole. Then the sophomore Hendrick Motorsports driver continued his hot streak on last night by winning the first of the two Can-Am Duel races.
With the win, Elliott becomes the youngest winner of a Duel race, eclipsing Jeff Gordon for that record and also becoming one of three drivers to win a Duel race before winning their first full points race. He is also the first driver since Dale Earnhardt in 1996 to win the Daytona 500 pole and his qualifying race.
Following Elliott to the finish was McMurray, Harvick, Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Trevor Bayne, Martin Truex, Jr.*, Aric Almirola, Joey Logano, and Cole Whitt to round out the top-10. All 10 drivers also score season points, with Elliott scoring 10 points down to Whitt with one point.
“We had such a fast NAPA Chevy tonight. I didn’t think anyone was going to help us there at the first part of the race and I had a couple of good pushes to get us out front. Eddie did a great job on top of the roof making sure that he was calling the lanes correctly and we were able to get back to the front. Big thanks to our partners: NAPA, Hooters, Kelley Blue Book, Mountain Dew, Sun Energy 1, Chevrolet, Vavoline, the Hendrick engine shop – they had some steam tonight and it was apparent,” said Elliott.
The race was not without incident as the two drivers battling for the lone race-in spot in the first Duel, Reed Sorenson and Corey Lajoie, got together on lap 49. Sorenson coming out of the tri-oval before hitting the SAFER barrier and destroying his car. Luckily, Sorenson walked out of the Infield Care Center a short time later. Lajoie continued on to race his way into the ‘Great American Race.’
Sorenson was not too happy to be crashed out of the race, stating, “I hope he is proud of that.” Below is the video of the incident – You decide:
“I was just welding seats in my dad’s shop and Ron Devine’s call came in. He was needing a driver, Matt went over to GoFas, and he had an open seat that I’d politicked very hard for. I picked it up and he said ‘this is the call you’ve been wanting to hear’ and I was like ‘man, thank you, thank you very much’. I’m excited to go and I can’t thank Dustless Blasting enough for putting me in that thing and have faith in me to do it because he could have chosen several other people. He chose me and we’re racing on Sunday,” said Lajoie when recounting how he landed his ride for the Daytona 500.
Ready to qualify. Thanks to @floridalottery and @RTICCoolers #fundingfutures pic.twitter.com/ELx2kEGEdq— Cole Whitt (@ColeWhitt) February 19, 2017
This year, Whitt entered the Duels with a guaranteed Daytona 500 spot. Not satisfied with that accomplishment, the twenty-five-year-old rolled off eighteenth in the first Duel and stayed at the tail of the lead pack early on, trying to find a way through the pack. As the race neared its close, Whitt kept himself out of trouble and worked his way into the top-fifteen. After restarting twelfth with eight laps to go, he used the final laps to maneuver his way into top-ten. In the process, he earned his first point in the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series point system**.
It will be interesting to witness how Whitt and his TriStar Motorsports No. 72 team progresses during this 2017 NASCAR Season. NASCAR Race Mom is of the belief that the youngster’s talent and acquired racing maturity will sparkle this year.
*The Furniture Row Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. proved too low at the height station and therefore failed tech. Truex, who was seventh in Duel 1, lost four points and will start the Daytona 500 from the rear.
**Points! The top 10 drivers from each duel race will carry points into the Daytona 500, marking the first time points ever have been on the line at the duels. The driver whi finishes first is awarded 10 points, and the remaining points are awarded in descending order. This means that two drivers will head into The Great American Race with a share of the points lead; Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin.
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