Jimmie Johnson gives Chase Elliott friendly push to victory lane

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When Chase Elliott took the checkered flag Sunday at Watkins Glen for his first Cup win, the auto behind him was being driven by Martin Truex Jr. On race day, the big three were looking like the best of the field once again, but the #9 Sun Energy1 vehicle of Chase Elliott was a man on a mission.

The win marks Elliott's first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory.

Bell, who entered Saturday on a three-race winning streak, qualified 11th for the Xfinity Zippo 200 in his first laps at Watkins Glen International and finished ninth. "I'm so thrilled, so emotional, so much relief, working on three years and I hadn't won one".

On a stop on lap 54, leader Kyle Busch's gasman had a problem with a can, preventing him from filling the auto. "Jimmie has been one of my heroes for a long, long time". Truex Jr picked up an important playoff point with the stage win.

Elliott won the race's second stage and brought the crowd to its feet with a pass of Busch.

Kyle Busch finished third, followed by Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, a triumvirate of Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas.

Stage Three: This was by far the most interesting stage of the race. Almirola spun out and backed into the guardrail to bring out the first caution of the race. He pulled out to a half-second lead while Martin Truex Jr. was fighting to get back to the front after restarting 12th. While Busch had a valiant rally, it wasn't enough.

Truex was shooting for his third straight road-course win, but ran out of fuel on the final lap as he was only a few vehicle lengths behind Elliott, who also ran out of fuel but on the cool down lap. With 44 Cup victories and the 1988 Cup championship, Elliott was inducted in the 2015 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

NASCAR said Elliott has passed a physical and is approved to race.

Chase's win is team owner Rick Hendrick's 250th overall win and first of the 2018 season. Like Chase, the rest of HMS is inching closer to being very competitive. It's definitely not going to happen overnight.

PLAYOFF FIGHT: Paul Menard was dealt a blow to his playoff chances before the race even started when his No. 21 Ford failed inspection Sunday morning and he was sent to the rear of the 37-car field.

Both drivers would run out of fuel before they could get to the garages - in Elliott's case, to Victory Lane.

Chase Elliott, who topped the first round of qualifying, will start third in the No. 9 Chevy, followed by Truex and Kyle Larson.

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