Chase Elliott exposed to a new side of fandom by Atlanta Braves’ World Series title run

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PHOENIX – Being NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver gives Chase Elliott a natural window into sports fandom, but being a longtime fan of his beloved Atlanta Braves recently deepened his understanding.

Namely as it relates to gaining a better appreciation of how fans feel when they cheer for the defending Cup Series champion.

“It’s hard to see that sometimes because you’re in the midst of it, and it’s hard to appreciate that and see it from another person’s vantage point,” Elliott told NBC Sports during a Championship 4 Media Day interview Thursday. “But I’ve had a lot of people ask me that through the Braves run, and I can certainly appreciate it watching them go through that. For sure.”

The Dawsonville, Georgia, native loves watching postseason baseball and savored every moment Tuesday of the Braves’ clinching 7-0 victory in Game 6, which he stayed up to watch well past midnight. “I watched the whole game and then I watched a lot of the postgame,” he said. “I don’t know what time it was (when he went to bed), but worth it. Right? Not every day you get to see your team win the World Series. So I wanted to hear what everybody had to say. All of them.”

Atlanta’s championship over the Houston Astros was the Braves’ first World Series victory since Oct. 28, 1995 – exactly a month before Elliott was born.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who was a special guest of the team before a game in September, nearly witnessed history in person last Sunday.

After finishing 16th at Martinsville Speedway (and qualifying for the championship round), Elliott flew home to Georgia and then made the hourlong drive to the Braves’ ballpark in northwest Atlanta. He arrived around midway through the Braves’ 9-5 loss in Game 5.

The defeat hardly dampened his enthusiasm about enjoying the playoff run, which he documented on social media and interviews throughout the NASCAR playoffs.

“Just being a fan was super fun,” said Elliott, who has been voted NASCAR’s most popular star by fans the past three years. “It’s not something I’ve experienced with the Braves before. Like a lot of Braves fans, I had a couple of tough NLCS losses. So it was exciting. Definitely different.

“When you’re a fan and watching it, it’s like I can’t do anything. I’m just sitting there. I have no hand in trying to help this go better. So it’s definitely a different vibe than I have when I’m racing or in the moment, because you feel like you can control some things, but as a fan watching on TV, you just cross your fingers and hope for the best.”

The history of blown leads by the Braves (and other Atlanta sports teams) made for especially tense viewing after the team opened a big lead and a dearth of communication with fellow fans until the final out “and then obviously your phone starts blowing up there,” Elliott said. “I feel like no one said a word. I feel like we all just had this mutual understanding of do not say a word until it was over.

“I was waiting on something to happen. That was one thing that really impressed me about it was the majority of that team had never been to the World Series, and I just thought it was really cool the composure that they exemplified, and to be able to get the job done on the road like that, I’ve never done it, but I would have to imagine that would be a tough environment to play in.”

Elliott now will be in the though environment Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, trying to become the first repeat champion since Jimmie Johnson – and also maintain a run of success for Atlanta sports that includes the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs football team.

“I don’t really feel any additional pressure,” he said. “I’m just excited about it. It’s awesome. The ’Dawgs and the Braves are kind of my two teams that I always pull for and to see them having success is really cool. And then on our end, to have a great opportunity this weekend, that’s the most important thing to me.

“But yeah, just excited to be here and looking forward to Sunday. I feel like we can go out there and have a really good run.”

NASCAR Cup Series results: Ryan Blaney wins at Charlotte

NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600
Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images
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CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Blaney outran William Byron over the final miles and through several restarts to win Monday’s 600-mile NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Blaney thus ended a 59-race winless streak and qualified for the Cup playoffs.

Following in the top five were Byron, Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick.

Charlotte Cup results

Ryan Blaney wins NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600
Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images
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CONCORD, N.C. — It was the longest wait for the longest race, and it ended on a very long day. And it marked the end of a long winless streak.

Ryan Blaney sprinted away from William Byron in the closing laps of Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and ended a 59-race winless streak.

Byron finished second and was followed by Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick.

MORE: Charlotte Cup results

Blaney pushed through several late-race restarts and held on to finally write finish to a frustrating losing string. The win marked the first time long-time team owner Roger Penske has won both the Indy 500 and Coke 600 in the same year.

“You start to get to feel like you can’t win any more when you don’t win for a while,” an emotional Blaney told Fox Sports after the race.

Following the lead of his Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden, who won Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 and went into the stands to celebrate with fans, Blaney ran into the CMS frontstretch grandstands after grabbing the checkered flag.

Contender Kyle Larson lost control of his car on a restart with 26 laps to go, starting a crash that also involved Joey Logano, Ty Gibbs and Christopher Bell.

He had maneuvered his way through a web of crashes and outran Byron, whose team kept him in or near the front with a string of fast pit stops.

The race was postponed by rain Sunday and was delayed by showers Monday. Rain had soaked the track most of the weekend, postponing the Cup and Xfinity Series races and cancelling Saturday night’s Cup practice and qualifying. Monday’s forecast was better, but the weather refused to cooperate. Rain interrupted the Xfinity race, which started at 11 a.m., and another shower stopped the Cup race during the second stage.

Charlotte Motor Speedway, which advertises itself as “America’s Home for Racing,” had become America’s home for raining.

Blaney, 29, scored the eighth win of his career. He last won at Daytona International Speedway in August 2021 and had posted four runnerup finishes during that span.

A mid-race collision between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin left their cars seriously damaged and their feelings hurt. They were racing in close quarters on lap 186 when extended contact between the two cars sent Hamlin hard into the wall, resulting in major front-end damage. Elliott’s car sustained serious rear damage.

Hamlin said Elliott had a “tantrum” and that he should be suspended for the next race for what Hamlin called “a right rear hook.” Elliott denied intentionally wrecking Hamlin.

A few laps earlier, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski crashed.

The third-stage win went to Blaney. Following were Reddick, Truex, Byron and Ty Gibbs.

Chris Buescher won the second stage, leading Kevin Harvick, Keselowski, Joey Logano and Gibbs.

Byron won the first stage, leading a three-way battle with Christopher Bell and Blaney on the 100th lap. Bell was second, Blaney third, Reddick fourth and Truex Jr. fifth.

A crash involving Bubba Wallace and Aric Almirola resulted in the drivers having a tense red-flag discussion. Almirola shoved Wallace before the altercation was broken up.

Stage 1 winner: William Byron

Stage 2 winner: Chris Buescher

Stage 3 winner: Ryan Blaney

Who had a good race: Ryan Blaney had the day’s fastest car and held off a following herd over the final miles. … William Byron was strong throughout the race but couldn’t challenge Blaney at the end.

Who had a bad race: Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson had a tough day in his third race of the year. He lost control of his car in Turn 2 74 laps into the race and slapped the outside wall. He lost a lap in the pits and ultimately finished last. … Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin had top-10 cars but both left the race after a controversial collision near the halfway point.

Next: The series moves on to World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois for a June 4 race at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott involved in big crash at Charlotte

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CONCORD, N.C. — Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott were involved in a big crash midway through Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and each blamed the other.

Elliott’s car slapped the outside wall near the start-finish line, and his car made contact with Hamlin’s Toyota, sending Hamlin slamming into the wall. The front end of Hamlin’s car was smashed. Elliott’s Chevrolet also was damaged.

Both drivers parked for the evening, and neither was happy.

Hamlin said Elliott had a “tantrum” and said he should be suspended from next week’s race.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Elliott had a different view.

“The 11 (Hamlin) put me in the fence, and once you take the right sides off these things it’s kind of over,” he said. “Once you hit the wall in these things, you can’t drive them any more.”

Elliott denied intentionally hitting Hamlin, saying the crash was “unfortunate circumstances.”

Brad Keselowski hit the rear of Elliott’s car after the initial contact between Hamlin and Elliott.

After the crash, Hamlin tweeted data in support of his contention that Elliott drove into him.

 

 

 

More rain postpones conclusion of Charlotte Xfinity race

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CONCORD, N.C. — Despite an improving forecast, rain continued to plague NASCAR and its drivers Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The twice-rescheduled Xfinity Series race was stopped twice because of weather Monday after finally getting the green flag, and the conclusion of the 300-mile race was postponed until after the completion of Monday’s rescheduled 600-mile Cup Series race.

Forty-eight of the race’s scheduled 200 laps were completed before weather and the impending scheduled start of the Cup race intervened.

When (or if) the race resumes Monday night, it will be broadcast by FS2, the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

After 48 laps, Ty Gibbs, John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Allgaier are in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first stage.