Not to mention, he got a push to victory lane from a seven-time champion — not a horrible way to celebrate win No. 1.
In honor of Elliott’s finally getting a win, here’s an article that’s entirely(mostly) Elliott-related.
Like father, like son
There were several comparisons between Bill and Chase Elliott’s first career wins. They both had to wait a little while (Bill took 116 races, Chase took 99), and both came on a road course (Bill won at Riverside).
Where Elliott had the advantage is he won at 22 years old, while Bill’s first win came at 28 years old.
That makes Elliott the ninth-youngest first-time winner in series history, and if history is any indication, he has a bright future. Eighth on that list is Richard Petty. Tenth on that list is Jeff Gordon.
But Elliott isn’t even the youngest first-time winner this year. That honor goes to Erik Jones, at 22 years and 38 days old, compared to 22 years and 251 days for Elliott.
On second thought …
We’ve known for a long time that Elliott was going to win a race. With his pedigree, history in lower-tier series and propensity to run up front, it was an inevitability. The surprise was how long it took, especially given that he came close so many times before.
Elliott had eight career runner-up finishes before he won Sunday at Watkins Glen, which is tied for the fourth-most second-place finishes before a driver’s first win.
The most amazing part might be whom he’s tied with for fourth-most. You guessed it: his father, Bill, who also had eight runner-up finishes before his first win.
The drivers who had more second-place finishes before picking up a win were James Hylton (12 and the usual answer to any trivia about second-place race or points finishes), Harry Gant (10) and Sterling Marlin (9).
Milestone victory for Hendrick
Lost in this breakthrough victory for Elliott was the fact that it was a landmark victory for Hendrick Motorsports.
It was the 250th Cup Series victory all time for Hendrick, which became the second team in series history to reach the mark Hendrick joined — who else? — the Richard and Lee Petty-led Petty Enterprises, with 268, a mark very much within reach for Hendrick.
It took some time for Hendrick to get on the board this year, not winning until the 22nd race of the season. That’s the most races it has taken for Hendrick to pick up its first win of the season since 1992, when Ricky Rudd won at Dover in the 23rd race of the season.
The only time Hendrick waited longer than that was in 1985, when it didn’t win at all in its second season as a single-car operation in the Cup Series.
And if you were curious (I was), Elliott is the ninth driver to win his first career Cup Series race while driving for Hendrick Motorsports. That breaks a tie with Roush Fenway Racing for the most first-time winners for a team in series history.
Before I go
I usually go three sections, but this is my most weird, fun and interesting-to-me note of the week.
AJ Allmendinger finished second in this past Saturday’s race at Watkins Glen. He was looking for his third career Xfinity Series win, with the first two coming in road course races in 2013.
The weirdest part is that Allmendinger hadn’t made a start in the series since he won at Road America and Mid-Ohio in 2013.
He would’ve been the first driver in series history whose first three career wins were recorded in consecutive starts, but they would’ve come over a five-year span.