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AP photo by Terry Renna / Chase Elliott (9) leads Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney through a turn on the road course at Daytona International Speedway during Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race in Daytona Beach, Fla. Elliott won the race, holding off a late charge from Denny Hamlin.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Chase Elliott was already stock car racing royalty, a prince as the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott and the sport's reigning most popular driver.

Now he's also the road king.

Elliott won the Cup Series' first road course race at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, holding off hard-charging season title contender Denny Hamlin after a late restart and notching his third consecutive victory away from ovals.

"I had a phenomenal car. I don't think I did anything special today," said Elliott, a 24-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver from Dawsonville, Georgia.

He also won on road courses at Charlotte Motor Speedway and at Watkins Glen International last year. He got a tougher challenge than many expected down the stretch in his latest roadie.

Elliott had a 10-second lead with 10 laps to go and was pulling away when 2019 Cup Series champion Kyle Busch blew a tire and brought out a caution that gave two of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., a chance.

Elliott stayed out front on the final restart, though, and while Hamlin got to his rear bumper on the last lap, he couldn't do enough to mount any significant pressure on the No. 9 Chevrolet.

"I kept him honest there," Hamlin said. "He had such good drive off (the corners), I couldn't do anything with him."

Hamlin finished second, followed by Truex and Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson, the seven-time season champion who has said this is his last year as a full-time Cup Series driver.

Elliott, Hamlin and Truex had the cars to beat all afternoon. Truex's chances took a huge hit near the end of the second segment. He was caught speeding on pit road and forced to start the last stanza at the back of the pack. Hamlin also got stuck behind slower cars early in the final stage.

Making up that kind of ground on a 14-turn, 3.61-mile road course was a nearly impossible task, especially considering Elliott was turning mistake-free laps at the front of the field. That late caution gave both a shot, albeit an unlikely one given Elliott's road repertoire.

Another top contender, points standings leader Kevin Harvick, got turned around while braking into the "international horseshoe" and never recovered, finishing 17th.

Kaz Grala was seventh in his debut on the top circuit. Grala stepped into the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing after Austin Dillon tested positive for COVID-19. Dillon needs two negative tests 24 hours apart before being cleared to return.

"This is far beyond my wildest dreams for this event," Grala said.

Ryan Newman was 19th in his return to the scene of his most harrowing crash.

Newman delivered a special message to safety workers minutes before the race started. He spoke over his radio to the control tower, a clip that was later played during the NBC broadcast.

"Hey everyone, just want to say a big thank you," Newman said. "This is a special day for me. I owe a lot of it because of all the things that you guys did back in February. It's enabled me to come back into this race track and do what I love.

"Thank you for your support, not only for me personally but all the things you do for all us drivers. It goes a long way, and I want to say thank you from the deepest of my heart. Thank you."

Newman had to be cut from the Roush No. 6 Ford after wrecking while leading the final lap of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17.

Newman was one of the few Cup Series drivers with experience on Daytona's road course, and he won an IROC race on the layout in 2004. Busch and his older brother Kurt, Clint Bowyer, Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Michael McDowell also had limited experience on the layout that uses a large portion of the main superspeedway.

None of them, though, had driven this exact course because NASCAR added a chicane coming off the tradition tri-oval's fourth turn, a twister designed to slow speeds heading toward the start-finish line and create another potential passing zone. The Cup Series drivers, as expected, handled the chicane better than those in any other series that raced it this weekend, finishing the 65-lap event with few cautions.

"These drivers are really, really good," Hamlin said. "They are pros."

Heat and humidity proved to be bigger challenges. Drivers called for ice bags and bottles of water under caution, and when the race was red flagged for nearby lightning, drivers welcomed the nearly 45-minute break.

Johnson climbed out of his car and immediately unzipped his fire suit, exposing an elaborate cooling system over his T-shirt. Michael McDowell started chugging water. Elliott grabbed a towel and wiped away sweat.

All of them headed toward their haulers to cool down.

J.J. Yeley climbed out of his car a few laps before the red flag and collapsed on the pavement. He was helped onto a golf cart and taken to the medical center for evaluation and treatment.

Daniel Suarez's crew had two members leave the pits to get treatment, too.

"When we get out of the car, that feels like air conditioning," said Truex, adding that NASCAR should allow teams to create more air flow by removing right-side windows at road courses.

 

Indy 500 pole to Andretti

INDIANAPOLIS — Marco Andretti was 2 months old the last time his venerable racing family led the field to green at the Indianapolis 500. In this strange season, he ended a 33-year drought by winning the pole position.

That darned "Andretti Curse" has haunted three generations of racers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1969, when Mario Andretti earned his only Indy 500 win. Now his grandson, with a lightning-fast and fearful four laps around the speedway, has cleared the first hurdle toward an elusive victory.

Mario Andretti was 1-for-29 in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," with just three career poles, his last in 1987. His son, Michael, never won a pole, and his best finish in 16 tries was second in 1991. Jeff Andretti went 0-for-3. John Andretti was 0-for-12

Now, in his 15th attempt, Michael's son will attempt to end that stupid family curse once and for all.

The last of nine drivers Sunday to make a qualifying run, Marco logged a four-lap average of 231.068 mph to bump five-time IndyCar season champion Scott Dixon from the pole. Andretti worried about the wind all morning and relied on advice his grandfather has long given the racers of the family to find the courage to hold it wide open for four laps around one of the most famous tracks in motorsports.

"The wind will scare you, but it will never crash you," Marco said, quoting his grandfather after his run.

He seemed to have tears in his eyes and his hands appeared to briefly shake as driver after driver congratulated him on pit lane. Then came a strong embrace with his father, owner of the six Andretti entries in the race, rescheduled from its traditional Memorial Day weekend spot to Aug. 23 this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andretti will sit on the front row alongside two former Indy 500 winners. Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing qualified second, and Takuma Sato was third for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Rinus VeeKay, a 19-year-old rookie for Ed Carpenter Racing, was fourth and the only Chevrolet driver in the fast nine. Andretti drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe filled out the second row. Alex Palou, a rookie for Dale Coyne Racing, was seventh and will start alongside Graham Rahal and Alexander Rossi, another Andretti entry.

Positions 10 through 33 were set in Saturday qualifying, when Honda dominated and Chevrolet struggled to match the same speed.

That meant none of the four Team Penske entries had a chance at the pole Sunday, and reigning series champion Josef Newgarden in 13th has the best starting position for the Penske field. Simon Pagenaud, whose win at last year's Indy 500 earned a contract extension with the team, will start 25th.

 

F1: Reign in Spain

Lewis Hamilton said he was wary of Max Verstappen before Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix — and also worried about how the Mercedes team's tires would cope on the 2.9-mile Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya under a searing summer sun after they wilted last weekend in lesser heat in England.

His concerns proved unfounded as his 88th career victory was comprehensive. The six-time Formula One season champion is now within three of Michael Schumacher's series record of 91 wins.

Hamilton beat Verstappen to the line by 24 seconds, and the 35-year-old British driver extended his lead over Verstappen in the season standings to 37 points after six races in the pandemic-altered schedule.

Hamilton's win, although his fourth this year, also provided a sense of relief for Mercedes after Verstappen's superb win a week before for Red Bull put his rivals on edge. Despite track surface temperatures close to 122 degrees at Barcelona, the tires, the car and the driver more than held up.

"I was just in a daze out there. I felt really good," Hamilton said. "I didn't even know it was the last lap, I was so zoned in."

Verstappen was happy to have second and stay ahead of Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas, who wound up third and is fading in the points race, 43 out of the lead despite winning the season opener.

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