NASCAR Sports Update: Elliott wins 1st Cup Title, Johnson says goodbye (11/8/20) By: Josh Scott
Chase Elliott beat Brad Keselowski by 2.7 seconds, after starting at the back of the field due to failing pre-race inspection, to win the Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway and capture his first career NASCAR Cup Series championship, on Sunday. The race win is Elliott's fifth of 2020 as well as his 11th career win. At 24 years old, the Dawsonville, GA native becomes the third-youngest driver to win a Cup championship.
"We did it!" said an emotional Elliott, who led a race-high 153 laps. "I never thought that this year would have gone like it has...NASCAR Cup Series champion, are you kidding me? Unreal!"
The Hendrick Motorsports driver along with this father, Bill, are now the third father-son duo to win a Cup title in NASCAR, joining Lee and Richard Petty, as well as Ned and Dale Jarrett.
"If it weren't for (car owner) Rick Hendrick, we would not be here today," Bill said after the race.
Keselowski, despite coming up short, has now finished four straight seasons inside the top 10 in points.
"I would've liked to have had a late-race yellow," said the 2012 champion, disappointment in his voice. "A solid day, just came up one spot short."
Keselowski's teammate Joey Logano, who led 125 laps, finished third and came up short of winning his second title in three years.
"We didn't have speed at the right time," Logano said. "We were close...it's a growing year, there's a lot for us to be proud of."
Denny Hamlin finished fourth for the
second year in a row and, at 39 years old, is still looking for his first Cup championship.
Our overall car speed just wasn't quite enough," said the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who won seven races in 2020. "We as an organization have got to get a little bit better, especially on the short tracks."
Jimmie Johnson finished fifth in his final NASCAR race on Sunday. In a 19-year span, the El Cajon, CA, native has claimed seven championships, 83 wins, 232 top fives, 374 top 10's, and led 194,170 laps.
"My heart's full," Johnson said. "This has been quite a journey...I've met so many wonderful people. I've worked for great people and worked with great people, and I've learned so many lessons in and out of the car."
Johnson transitions to Indycar where he will drive for Chip-Ganassi Racing starting next year.
Ryan Blaney finished the race sixth, Kevin Harvick seventh, Matt DiBenedetto eighth, William Byron ninth, and Martin Truex Jr tenth. Clint Bowyer, who joins Johnson in retirement, finished 14th in his final NASCAR race. Matt Kenseth, the two-time Cup champion who came out of retirement to replace the suspended Kyle Larson, finished 25th in what will likely be his last NASCAR race. Cole Custer, the Cup Series Rookie of the Year, finished the race in 28th.
The NASCAR Cup Series' two-month offseason will be an offseason of change as multiple drivers, such as Christopher Bell, Erik Jones, and Darrell Wallace Jr will find themselves driving for new teams in 2021. The sport begins a new season in February starting with the biggest race of them all, the 63rd running of the Great American Race, a.k.a the Daytona 500.