For the second consecutive season, Chevrolet made its way to victory lane at Dover Motor Speedway, this time with Chase Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1 team picking up their first NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) win of 2022 in the DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne. The triumph marks the seventh victory for the Next Gen Camaro ZL1 in 11 points-paying races thus far, with Elliott becoming the fifth different Chevrolet driver to make his way to the winner circle. With the victory, the 2020 NCS Champion has now solidified his chance at running for his second title, joining Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain and his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates - Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman and William Byron - in the 16-driver NCS Playoff driver field.
“Really appreciate Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and our entire team No. 9 Chevrolet team for just sticking with it,” said Elliott holding the checkered flag in front of the Dover crowd. “We've had some tough races over the last, I don't know, four, five months. Just great to get NAPA back to Victory Lane; great to get Hendrick Motorsports back to Victory Lane.”
The 400-mile event at the 1-mile concrete oval that is famously known as the “Monster Mile” was brought to a halt Sunday afternoon after persistent rainfall forced the series to postpone the remainder of the event to Monday afternoon. With 78-laps in the book at the drop of the green to resume the event, Chase Elliott and his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team showcased their speed early on, restarting the remainder of the 400-lap event from a front row starting spot. The 26-year-old Georgia native went on to capture top-10 finishes in both stages, proving to be a contender for the win all afternoon. In the closing laps, Elliott battled Chevrolet teammate, Ross Chastain, for the lead on the final restart and went on to lead the remaining 53-laps en route to his 14th-career victory in 232 starts in NASCAR’s premier series.
Camaro ZL1’s across a variety of Chevrolet teams posted strong runs throughout the day, with four different Chevrolet teams placing drivers in the top-10 at the conclusion of the rain-delayed event. Four of the top-five and six of the top-10 were taken by the bowtie brand, including a notable Chevrolet 1-2-3 finish. The runner-up position saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and his No. 47 Kroger/The Frozen Farmer Camaro ZL1 team; his season-best finish and fourth top-10 finish at the Monster Mile. Also included in the Chevrolet podium sweep was Ross Chastain in third, marking a series-high seventh top-five finish of 2022 for the No. 1 Pitbull Tour 2022 Camaro ZL1 team. Alex Bowman battled back from an untimely caution to finish fifth in his No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1, giving Chevrolet four of the top-five of the final running order.
Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kyle Larson, overcame going a lap down early in the event following an on-track incident to come home in the sixth-spot in his No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1. Erik Jones, who drove his No. 43 FOCUSfactor Camaro ZL1 to a top-10 finish in Stage Two, brought home another solid top-10 finish for Petty GMS to round out the Team Chevy top-10.
Monday’s victory at the Delaware venue marks the seventh of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season and the 43rd win at Dover Motor Speedway for Chevrolet, extending it’s record over all manufacturers. As the winningest brand in NASCAR, Chevrolet leaves Dover Motor Speedway with 821 all-time wins in NASCAR’s premier series. Chase Elliott entered the race weekend on top of the NCS driver points standings; and with a win and his now eight top-10 finishes this season, the Hendrick Motorsports driver has extended his points lead to 50-points over second-place Ryan Blaney.
Next up for the NASCAR Cup Series is the highly-anticipated throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway with the Goodyear 400 on Sunday, May 8, at 3:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage of the 293-lap event will air on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1 – PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: We have our driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Chase Elliott. We'll go straight to questions for Chase.
Q. You have been running well. What has your mindset been over the first 10 races? You've been on top of the points standings but haven't consistently shown that race-winning speed. How has that affected your mindset and how rewarding is it to get to Victory Lane today?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I'm not really sure it's affected my approach. I want to do good every week, regardless of what's going on around me.
Just proud of our team for sticking with it. I feel like we've had a lot of pace at different times throughout the year. We just hadn't put an entire race together really until today I feel like.
Been fast at one point or fast at another. Just not quite putting it all together all in one three-and-a-half, four-hour time frame. It was just nice to do that today.
Proud of our team. Proud of Alan. Really just our entire group for continuing to bring good attitudes to the racetrack. Coming in with the right mindset every week regardless of what happened the week before. To me that says a lot about their character and the kind of group that we have.
As always, just really proud of them and excited to get a win. Still fairly early in the season. That's always a good thing. Good opportunity to build some more wins and bonus points before we get to the Playoffs.
A lot of racing left, though, for sure.
Q. This is the first oval you've scored multiple wins on in your Cup career. What is it about Dover that suits your driving style?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I'm not sure. I feel like Jeff and Alan had a great package here to start really before I came along. It was much like the road courses really.
When you step into a situation that has a really nice foundation as you're trying to learn, it makes that learning process a lot easier.
I would say that probably falls under that category more than anything that I do special behind the wheel.
Q. Were you concerned at all about tire wear on the last run? Especially when you have that big of a lead, are you thinking at all about how much can I, don't want to say "save," but were you trying to conserve?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I was certainly thinking about it. We had some cording issues on and off throughout the day. It had been getting better those last two runs. Just based on how hard everybody was driving, the fact it was getting better with the added aggressiveness over the last couple runs made me feel better about it.
I had a better feeling. I still felt like there was going to be a caution. I don't think we ran that long all day. I felt like the odds of us getting a caution, the fact that we were leading, was pretty high. I was kind of waiting on that as always.
Fortunately didn't get one. Was able to run it out, control our gap there, get NAPA and our team back to Victory Lane.
Q. What is the mood for you and around the shop when you see your other three teammates win? Obviously you want to win, but do you feel pressure? Is it good-natured stuff around the shop?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, look, I want to win always. There's a lot of noise. I understand you guys are doing your jobs. I respect that. But at the end of the day, like, I want to win just as bad at Daytona at the start of the season when no one has any stickers on their cars just as bad as I do when we get to Phoenix at the end of the season regardless of what has gone on.
My drive to win, to do my job to the best of my ability, doesn't change whether we are struggling, whether we are doing very good, whether I'm in a contract year, whether I'm not, whether my teammates have won and I haven't. Those circumstances are fine and cool and great, but I want to do my job to the very best of my ability all the time no matter what, no matter the track, no matter the circumstances, always.
Does that answer your question?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Thank you.
Q. How did you think the Next Gen car at this track compared to the previous iteration?
CHASE ELLIOTT: You know, different. There's certainly some differences. I think the tire is different, just the way the tire is constructed.
Without, like, getting into some super fine details, it felt pretty similar, I would say, would probably be the best way to describe it for just everybody watching the race and the fans. Very similar. I don't think it looked a ton different from the outside looking in, just watching guys race around each other. It looked
very similar to races of old.
There are some details on how the car drives, there are some differences that we'll certainly try to attack and make better before we come back.
Overall, from a general point of view, pretty similar to Dover.
Q. Do you think the tire was a big change as well?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Seemed like it to me. Seemed like it had an impact on how the cars drove. We had a little bit of room to move around, not a ton. It did promote some movement there later into a run. We just never had a super long run, to be honest with you. I think that last run was our longest, it was only 65 or 60, something like that.
Yeah, I would like to see some longer runs. I think that probably tells the story of the tire more so than short restarts and little stints like that.
Q. How did the rain delay impact how you approached today?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, for us personally as a team, we were able to kind of think about our struggles yesterday. I actually feel like it might have helped us a little bit.
Did it change the results? I don't know. I mean, I think we probably would have ended up probably headed in the same direction with our car. But it did give us some more time to think about it.
Other than that, it's not really a ton different. You just kind of go to bed, Groundhog Day, just try again.
Had less people here today which was a bummer. That was a great crowd we had yesterday. Biggest crowd I have seen here personally since I've been racing, which I thought was really cool. Proud to see that.
THE MODERATOR: Chase, congratulations on the win today.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Thank you, guys.
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1, JEFF ANDREWS, GENERAL MANAGER OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS – PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our post-race media availabilities here. We are joined by members of the race-winning team, the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
We have crew chief Alan Gustafson and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports Jeff Andrews.
Q. Jeff, having all four cars already being in Victory Lane so far this year, how big of a confidence boost, if you needed it, for an organization is that?
JEFF ANDREWS: Well, certainly was a goal of ours when you start out the season to get that accomplished early on. Really proud of the effort, especially with this new car, all that's gone on in the off-season with this race team, to be in this position. Having five wins at this point in the season, have all four of our cars into the Playoffs at this point time is a credit to all the men and women back in Charlotte at Hendrick Motorsports, as well as everybody here at the racetrack that make these cars go. Give that credit to them.
Yeah, it feels very good at this point in time. As we go into the summer, we know how hectic that can get later on in the summer, all kinds of circumstances that can present themselves. So very pleased with where we're at right now.
Q. Alan, there's been some unjust criticism on you guys as a race team. You're leading the points, but hadn't won yet. I'm sure that feels good to get that off your back, silence some haters.
ALAN GUSTAFSON: We don't do it for them. We do it for each other. That keeps you going.
Certainly not done with today. Yeah, it's a positive thing.
Q. Alan, you have been on top of the points standings. You've been running well. The race-winning speed hadn't been there. What has been the difference in the first 10 races and the difference today?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: I think we had some opportunities to win some races certainly at the beginning of the year. Didn't capitalize on them. I think the pace was there at California, Phoenix, Martinsville. There were a lot of opportunities. You look at the box score, you don't see it. I feel like we've been pretty close.
Unfortunately we hadn't finished where we should have or the way we were performing. Today I think we were able to put it all together and certainly get the win.
Q. Any relief, Alan, to get a win on an oval?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: Bob, c'mon, man. Next (smiling).
Q. We make a big deal out of that. Was there any angst within the team on that?
ALAN GUSTAFSON: No, man. To me, the winless streak, not winning on ovals, is a hell of a lot bigger deal to you guys than it is to us. It's just the way the circumstances played out. We were just as competitive in all those places. You get that question a lot.
You look at our statistics here with Chase driving the car, we got inverted when we did that double, right, got crashed on lap three, we blew up on lap four. Besides that I think our average finish was fourth. It's not like we run bad at ovals. There are a lot of places that are that way. Martinsville is that way. We certainly have good statistics.
I think the fact we run well on road courses and have dominated the road courses for a short period of time overshadows that, but I don't think there's a lack of performance on ovals. I think that's way overdone.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. Thanks for joining us.