AVONDALE, Ariz – Chase Elliott, NASCAR’s reigning most popular driver, won the his first NASCAR Cup Series championship Sunday night at Phoenix Raceway.
Elliott, 24, claimed his first Cup title after winning the Season Finale 500, placing ahead of Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. He was able to overcome starting at the tail of the field Sunday’s after his No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro failed pre-race inspection twice.
Son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, the Hendrick Motorsports driver earned the title in his fifth full-time season on the circuit. It is Hendrick Motorsports’ first title since 2016 when Jimmie Johnson earned his record-tying seventh title. It’s the team’s 13th overall.
Elliott, who will turn 25 on Nov. 28, is the youngest Cup champion since Jeff Gordon won his first title in 1995 at 24. It is the second national NASCAR title for Elliott after he won the 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.
The championship is a significant achievement for manufacturer Chevrolet, which had been locked out of the Championship 4 the last three years following Johnson’s title.
Elliott is the first reigning most popular driver to win the championship since his father did it in 1988.
Elliott capped the season off with five wins. He won the second race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval in May. He followed that with a victory in the inaugural race on Daytona Int’l Speedway Road Course. He earned his second-straight victory on the on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL before clinching a spot in the Championship 4 with a victory last week at Martinsville Speedway.
Elliott also won the July 15 All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. He and his father are the only drivers to win the All-Star Race when it wasn’t held in Charlotte. Bill Elliott won the second All-Star Race in 1986 at Atlanta.