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By Holly Cain NASCAR Wire Service July 15, 2020

The sport’s reigning Most Popular Driver, Chase Elliott, earned his first NASCAR All-Star Race win Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway — holding off reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch in the closing laps.

Elliott led 60 of the 140 laps en route to the $1 million paycheck. He and his father, Bill Elliott, join the father-son combination of Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to have won the sport’s midseason All-Star exhibition. Interestingly, Bill won the race when it was held in Atlanta and Chase’s victory was in Bristol, Tennessee — those are the only two times the event took place at a track other than Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet took a convincing lead at times in the second half of the 140-lap event, but he ultimately had to hold off a hard-charging Busch, who is still looking to hoist his first race trophy of the 2020 season. The winning difference between them was a mere .418 seconds.

The season’s driver standings leader, Kevin Harvick, finished third, followed by Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and 2020 Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin. Ryan Blaney, who led a race-high 72 laps, finished sixth. Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top 10 in order.

Elliott’s win was hugely popular even to the limited number of fans who were allowed to attend the race in person, and they celebrated by showering the 24-year-old with cheers.

“Oh my gosh, there’s no feeling like it, nothing like it,” a smiling Elliott said after climbing of his Chevrolet. “Bristol is an electric atmosphere unlike any place we go to. We’re going to celebrate this one for sure.

“There’s nothing like Bristol. There’s nothing like the lights here. There’s nothing like racing here. I’ve never won here — what a race to do it. Just really proud of our team tonight and rebounding. … All those No. 9 hats and T-shirts up in the stands — love to see it.”

NASCAR tried a couple innovative and seemingly well-received ideas at the non-points race, including fitting the cars with lights that provided an underglow and also a new format for restarts that allowed drivers to pick whichever lane they preferred — outside or inside.

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