Georgia’s Chase Elliott hangs on for home win at Atlanta

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Dawsonville, Georgia native Chase Elliott has joined his Hall of Fame father, Bill Elliott, as a NASCAR Cup Series winner at his home track of Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Elliott took the lead with two laps to go Sunday afternoon, then narrowly staved off a charge from Corey LaJoie that ended with LaJoie crashing in Turn 2. The race subsequently ended under caution, with Elliott claiming his third win of the 2022 Cup season.

LaJoie, who entered Sunday 31st in Cup points and was seeking to score an upset victory, was unofficially credited with a 21st-place finish.

Ross Chastain finished second behind Elliott. Austin Cindric was third. Erik Jones was fourth. Ryan Blaney was fifth.

Following a clean first stage of 60 laps, the second stage had five cautions due to spins or accidents. The biggest of those incidents came at Lap 91.

Contact from Chastain turned Martin Truex Jr. around in Turn 2, setting off a nine-car crash that collected Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon among others.

During the crash, contact from Christopher Bell sent Michael McDowell into Dillon, who was then turned hard into the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier. Dillon was checked and released from the infield care center, then called out Chastain for his role in the incident.

Single-car incidents for Chris Buescher, Chase Briscoe and Alex Bowman followed in the second stage. In both Buescher and Bowman’s cases, they suffered tire failures, hit the SAFER Barrier, and were unable to continue.

Another major crash broke out shortly after the start of the final stage. At Lap 170, Garrett Smithley appeared to lift out of the throttle entering Turn 3. Ty Dillon then made contact with Smithley, both drivers went into the SAFER Barrier, and a pile-up ensued.

Among those involved were contenders Tyler Reddick and William Byron, who won the first race on Atlanta’s reconfigured layout this past spring. Both Reddick and Byron were eliminated from the race, as was Smithley.

Following another incident at Lap 189 involving Kyle Busch and Cody Ware, LaJoie made his presence felt up front in a bid to become the next new winner of the 2022 Cup season.

LaJoie, driving for Spire Motorsports, led for a short period of time before Elliott regained control with less than 60 laps to go. The race continued on until a spin from Bell in Turn 4 and into the tri-oval grass brought out the caution with 25 laps to go.

Truex Jr. got out to the lead following the restart with 19 laps to go. Four laps later, Chastain was involved in another incident – this time with Denny Hamlin, with whom he clashed earlier this season at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Contact from Chastain in Turn 4 sent Hamlin around to put the race under yellow with 15 laps to go. Shortly after the next restart with 8 laps left, one last caution came out for an incident involving Hamlin, Bell and Logano. That set up the three-lap dash to the finish.

Stage 1 winner: Chase Elliott

Stage 2 winner: Chase Elliott

Who had a good race: Corey LaJoie came as close as he’s ever been to claiming his first NASCAR Cup Series win. LaJoie led a career-high 19 laps Sunday at Atlanta – the track where he posted his career-best Cup Series finish of fifth this past spring.

Who had a bad race: Apparent engine issues forced Ricky Stenhouse Jr. out of the race shortly before the start of the final stage. With that, Stenhouse and the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing team lost out on a critical opportunity to make the playoffs with a win. Stenhouse entered Sunday far behind the cutline (172 points behind 16th place).

Next: New Hampshire Motor Speedway – Sunday, July 17, 3 p.m. ET on USA Network

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Georgia’s Chase Elliott hangs on for home win at Atlanta originally appeared on NBCSports.com