While it may not have seemed like one, especially since it came in the second round of the playoffs and was at one of the toughest tracks on the playoff circuit, there is no denying that there was a chain of events that lead to Chase Elliott’s win at Dover. In fact, his victory doesn’t feel the same when you look at the factors surrounding the win.
Of course a win is a win and it does guarantee him a spot in the final eight in a few weeks, but don’t take this as sign of Elliott’s chances to win the title or even make it to the final four. Maybe some will disagree with that assessment and take comfort in the fact that it was the second win of his career ,but this is why the win means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.
5. Who did he beat?
Chase Elliott managed to hold off Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin to win Sunday at Dover and while a win is impressive in any series, who someone beat to win is still a big factor. Unfortunately for Elliott, he beat two people that have been eliminated from the playoffs and Joey Logano, who never got the run he needed in order to pass him.
With that being said, you can bet your bottom dollar that things would have been different if he was up against guys like Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr and Kevin Harvick. Again, the win was a good thing his team and could be indicative of a future star, but its wasn’t that impressive when you consider who he actually beat.
4. Pit call
Another thing fans need to be honest about is that Chase Elliott took the lead after not stopping to pit before overtime, which gave him lucrative track position to get the win. Of course NASCAR is a team sport and requires a team effort, but him winning had more to do with strategy and not just a pit stop.
With that in mind, it seems like this was more Alan Gustafson’s doing then that of Chase Elliott’s. Furthermore, it only seemed to work due to several outside factors that will be explained in the next couple of slides. In the end, Elliott didn’t dominate the race, he wasn’t even among the lap leaders, he was just in the right place and the right time and his team made the right call.
3. Chase Elliott versus Denny Hamlin storyline
NASCAR made it a point to talk up the fact that Chase Elliott beat Denny Hamlin to win the race and while beating anyone is an accomplishment, NASCAR is trying to act like it means something more since its Hamlin. They are also trying to make it almost seem like a coming full circle kind of moment, but that’s not exactly true.
In fact, the biggest difference between Sunday’s race at Dover and last year’s fall race at Martinsville, is that both of them were in the playoffs at the time. While Elliott is still in contention for the championship this time around, Hamlin was eliminated last week at The Charlotte Roval and would have gained next to nothing for the win.
Another difference between the two events is that the first one resulted in an on track altercation and the other one was just simply putting the after burner’s on Hamlin and driving away from the field In the end, this might not render the win meaningless for everyone, but its not this kind of revenge moment that NASCAR is trying to paint it as.
2. Trouble for Aric Almirola
Aric Almirola was so close.
In fact, he only had seven more circuits to complete in order to nab his first win in years, but an errant cuation cuased by his own teammate, Clint Bowyer, set a bizzare series of events in motion. Almirola and his team eventually decided to pit after believing that he could make up the spots with his fast car and it almost worked out that way.
Unforutnatley for Almirola, several drivers ended up not coming down pit road, which put him further back than he would have liked. Things only became worse however on the ensuing restart when Almirola nicked the wall on the backstretch, which set off a multi car wreck that ruined a lot of title contenders day’s
With that being said, Elliott might not have been so lucky if two things had been different in Sunday’s race at Dover. The first thing was that if Almirola hadn’t crashed, he might have been able to catch Elliott and beat him for the win. The second thing is that if Almirola didn’t pit and take four tires, he probably also would have beaten Elliott.
Of course neither of those two things happened during Sunday’s race and that is exactly why Chase Elliott now has a spot in the final eight in a few weeks. Maybe no one wants to admit that they want to see Elliott as some kind of threat to the big three in Miami, these kind of things prove that its not exactly the case
1 Kevin Harvick’s misfortune
While Chase Elliott was indeed at the right place, at the right time and made the most of the opportunity, that doesn’t take away from the fact that it was pure luck. Maybe this is better than the unluckiness that Elliott was subjected to before he finally broke through for his big win at Watkins Glen, but it doesn’t change the fact that it means nothing.
With that being said, if Kevin Harvick hadn’t gotten penalized for a loose lug nut and forced a lap down, he would have walked away with the win and a guaranteed spot in the final eight. As for Elliott, he would have probably finished in the top five and maybe put himself in a position to make the final eight, but not by virtue of winning. In the end, everyone else’s misfortune was Chase Elliott’s fortune and that’s exactly why he won at Dover.