The Final Word – Watkins Glen unveils a new fan favorite in Chase Elliott

I believe one certain guy would agree with me “that was awesome, Bill from Dawsonville!” Watkins Glen was damned entertaining right from the start, thanks to the action and thanks to the best broadcast crew in the business.

Chase Elliott won his first Cup career race, with his father, one of his spotters, in his ear at trackside. It took 99 races, along with eight second-place finishes, for Chase to win his first, on a road course. It took his dad 116 races, along with eight second-place finishes, for him to win his first, on a road course. Oh, it has been 30 years since Bill Elliott won his Cup championship.

The son did not have it easy on Sunday. Right from the opening lap, he was fighting it out with some big guns, in Kyle Busch and pole-sitter Denny Hamlin, for the lead. The next lap saw Joey Logano land on the beach with fatal under the hood issues, giving him just the second last-place finish of his Cup career. On the third lap, Aric Almirola got turned into the fence. I know, some folks would not have found all that exciting, but that is probably due to them being in a coma. It was damn good television for the rest of us.

Busch and Martin Truex Jr. wound up taking off from the rest of the field in the opening stage. Busch went for track position and pitted just before the end of the segment. Truex went for the points and claimed it.

Stage two was the Kyle and Chase Show, with the 22-year-old challenger moving ahead mid-way through as the two boys finished in that order to set up the final run. Then things got really exciting in the pits. Hamlin tried to pull out, but the air hose was wrapped up with the back tire and the jack man. That caused the tire changer to hesitate coming around as the car took off. The changer went flying, the tire went flying, the airgun went flying, another crewman got hit as the hose snapped, causing him to go flying, along with the tire he was trying to control. Hard to imagine, I know, that they got a penalty for migrating equipment. Knocking the tar out of the crewmen must have been a freebie.

Elliott also clipped one of his crew, who managed to call himself safe after landing on his butt. As for Busch, things were not as spectacular but proved costly. A malfunction caused him to have to come around again to get fuel in the auto. That dropped him from first to 26th. Hamlin dropped from third to 23rd. Elliott was in front, and apparently free as a bird.

Not quite. When they dropped the green, Elliott was in front, but the guy in his mirror for the next fifty-plus laps was Truex. The defending race winner. The defending Cup champion. As excited as it seemed everyone at the track was to see Elliott win, Truex kind of liked the idea of winning the thing himself. Damn if he did not try.

Truex came close. Mighty close. On the final lap, though, he ran out of gas. That was one lap prior to Elliott also running out of gas. Fortunately for him, Jimmie Johnson Road Rescue was on the scene to give him a push to where his crew was waiting, and after a brief celebration, they pushed the car and driver the rest of the way to Victory Lane.

Great race. Great result. Great broadcast. I can not believe I am saying this but, I can not wait for Michigan this upcoming Sunday. If it turns out anything like this past weekend’s action, it will be awesome.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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