The rain held off long enough Thursday for NASCAR to complete the second midweek race of its revised 2020 Cup Series schedule, the Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Even then, there was a 74-minute red flag for lightning near the track. The good news for NASCAR was that the bad weather moved away quickly and the race was scheduled for 311 miles (500 kilometers), so it finished shortly after 11 p.m. ET.
And when it was over, Chase Elliott, at long last, had his first win of the season.
He thought he was about to snag it Sunday night in the Coca-Cola 600 but a late caution and pit strategy conspired to keep him out of victory lane. He was poised to run down Denny Hamlin at Darlington last week, only to be wrecked by Kyle Busch.
“We’ve had some tough losses, but that deal on Sunday night was a heartbreaker,” Elliott said in his postrace interview with FS1’s Vince Welch. “It’s not the Coke 600 but any win in the Cup Series is really hard to get.”
The race was initially supposed to be run Wednesday night, but rain forced it to be postponed a day. There were afternoon showers in the Charlotte, N.C., area Thursday as well, but they did not affect the race’s start. A first-lap crash and then the red flag early in the first stage did, however.
Who won the Alsco Uniforms 500?
Chase Elliott took the lead from Kevin Harvick with 28 laps to go and then pulled away for his first victory of the Cup Series season.
Elliott said he wasn’t taking anything for granted even as he increased his lead to more than two seconds in the final five laps.
“I was just waiting for the caution to come out, to be honest with you,” Elliott said. “I thought either the caution was going to come out, I was going to break something or I was going to crash. Just after the last couple of weeks, I didn’t think, truly, it was going to go green to the end. I’m just glad it did and glad we’re, hopefully, back on the right path.”
The win puts Elliott in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs for the fifth year in a row. He has qualified for the Chase for the Cup/playoffs every season he has raced full time in the series.
Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five.
NASCAR at Charlotte results
(i) Ineligible for series points.
Average speed of race winner: 125.315 mph.
Time of race: 2 hours, 29 minutes, 23 seconds.
Margin of victory: 2.208 seconds.
Caution flags: 7 for 37 laps.
Lead changes: 15 among 8 drivers.
Lap leaders: William Byron 0; Matt DiBenedetto 1-9; William Byron 10; Matt DiBenedetto 11; William Byron 12-21; Joey Logano 22-23; Michael McDowell 24; Joey Logano 25-57; Ryan Blaney 58; Joey Logano 59-65; Kevin Harvick 66-74; Alex Bowman 75-125; Kevin Harvick 126-145; Ryan Blaney 146; Kevin Harvick 147-180; Chase Elliott 181-208.
Leaders summary (driver, times, lead laps led): Kevin Harvick 3 times for 63 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 51 laps; Joey Logano 3 times for 42 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 28 laps; William Byron 2 times for 11 laps; Matt DiBenedetto 2 times for 10 laps; Ryan Blaney 2 times for 2 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage 1 Top 10: 22,12,21,4,88,47,3,1,9,17.
Stage 2 Top 10: 88,12,22,9,4,1,3,38,95,43.
Material from the NASCAR Wire Service was used in this report.
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