Chase Elliott has spent the last several years being known primarily as NASCAR’s most popular driver and the son of “Million Dollar” Bill Elliott.
But late on Sunday afternoon, the 24-year-old Elliott became known as something much better — the Cup Series’ 2020 champion.
Elliott passed fellow Championship 4 driver Joey Logano for the lead with 43 laps to go, stayed up front the rest of the way and won the Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway and the championship.
The championship comes in the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s fifth full season as a full-time driver in Cup.
And it comes as the result of an incredible drive which saw him having to drive up through the field after he was penalized when his car twice failed pre-race inspection.
The victory was his second straight, as he won a week ago at Martinsville, the 11th of his career and the fifth of the season.
The championship ties him with his father in that category as Bill Elliott won the 1988 title. It comes in just his first time in the Championship 4 round of the Playoffs.
He wound up leading a race-best 154 laps and beat runner-up Brad Keselowski of Team Penske to the finish line by 2.7 seconds.
Behind Elliott and Keselowski at the finish were the two other Championship 4 drivers — Logano of Team Penske and Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing, in that order.
Logano and Keselowski were going for their second championships while Hamlin was attempting to win his first.
Elliott, who was to start on the pole, made overcoming the drive from the back of the pack look easy. He moved quickly forward and on Lap 27, he moved into the top 10.
Two star drivers were taking their final rides as full-time Cup drivers: seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and fan favorite Clint Bowyer.
Johnson finished fifth while Bowyer was 14th.