By Ben White
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, won five times and captured his first NASCAR Cup Series championship during an unprecedented season in which COVID-19 had a tremendous impact on the racing industry.
The son of 1988 NASCAR Cup Series champion Bill Elliott began racing in the mid-2000s, and he signed a driver development contract with Hendrick Motorsports in 2011.
Elliott won in Legend Cars, Late Models and the NASCAR Truck and Xfinity Series before making his Cup Series debut in 2015. He earned rookie-of-the-year honors in 2016 and claimed his first two Cup Series wins in 2017.
Elliott felt he was ready to contend for a championship in 2020 but misfortunes plagued the first half of his season in a schedule greatly altered by COVID-19 protocols.
Elliott rebounded by winning at Charlotte, in a 208-lap, 312-mile race, after passing Kevin Harvick for the lead with 27 laps remaining. He was on the verge of a second consecutive race win at Bristol when he and Joey Logano tangled with three laps remaining, relegating Elliott to 22nd and sparking a heated post-race discussion between the two.
In August on the Daytona road course, Elliott won his second points-paying event of the season. He also won on the Charlotte ROVAL in October to earn a spot among the Championship 4.
The five-time Most Popular Driver started last in the season finale at Homestead after failing pre-race inspection twice, but led a race-high 153 laps to win the race and the championship.
The Elliotts became the third father-son duo to win titles following the Pettys (Lee and Richard) and the Jarretts (Ned and Dale). The 24-year-old Elliott was the third youngest driver to win the championship behind Jeff Gordon and Bill Rexford.
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, collected nine NASCAR Cup Series wins and 27 top-10 results in 36 starts. It was Harvick’s best season in the win column and the native of Bakersfield, California, captured the regular-season championship. However, he was eliminated from title contention after finishing 17th at Martinsville and could do no better than fifth the final series standings.
Late in the Aug. 29 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, Tyler Reddick took the lead and then crashed with Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Erik Jones, Ryan Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. On the restart, Denny Hamlin crashed with Joey Logano, Reddick, Matt Kenseth, Daniel Suarez, Cole Custer and Jimmie Johnson, ending Johnson’s chance of making the playoffs in his final full-time season. In overtime, William Byron held off Chase Elliott for his first career victory.
Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet won five times and had 22 top-10 finishes.
Wheeling the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Busch Beer Ford, Kevin Harvick notched nine wins with 27 top-10 results.
2020 Season Recap
DATE | LOCATION | WINNER
Feb. 17 | Daytona International Speedway | Denny Hamlin
Feb. 23 | Las Vegas Motor Speedway | Joey Logano
March 1 | Auto Club Speedway | Alex Bowman
March 8 | Phoenix Raceway | Joey Logano
May 17 | Darlington Raceway | Kevin Harvick
May 20 | Darlington Raceway | Denny Hamlin
May 24 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Brad Keselowski
May 28 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Chase Elliott
May 31 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Brad Keselowski
June 7 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Kevin Harvick
June 10 | Martinsville Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.
June 14 | Homestead-Miami Speedway | Denny Hamlin
June 22 | Talladega Superspeedway | Ryan Blaney
June 27 | Pocono Raceway | Kevin Harvick
June 28 | Pocono Raceway | Denny Hamlin
July 5 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway | Kevin Harvick
July 12 | Kentucky Speedway | Cole Custer
July 19 | Texas Motor Speedway | Austin Dillon
July 23 | Kansas Speedway | Denny Hamlin
Aug. 2 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Brad Keselowski
Aug. 8 | Michigan International Speedway | Kevin Harvick
Aug. 9 | Michigan International Speedway | Kevin Harvick
Aug. 16 | Daytona International Speedway RC | Chase Elliott
Aug. 22 | Dover Motor Speedway | Denny Hamlin
Aug. 23 | Dover Motor Speedway | Kevin Harvick
Aug. 29 | Daytona International Speedway | William Byron
Sept. 6 | Darlington Raceway | Kevin Harvick
Sept. 12 | Richmond Raceway | Brad Keselowski
Sept. 19 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Kevin Harvick
Sept. 27 | Las Vegas Motor Speedway | Kurt Busch
Oct. 4 | Talladega Superspeedway | Denny Hamlin
Oct. 11 | Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL | Chase Elliott
Oct. 18 | Kansas Speedway | Joey Logano
Oct. 28 | Texas Motor Speedway | Kyle Busch
Nov. 1 | Martinsville Speedway | Chase Elliott
Nov. 8 | Phoenix Raceway | Chase Elliott