TALLADEGA, Ala. – For seven races in a row at Talladega Superspeedway, Chevrolet’s top brass watched helplessly as their counterparts at Ford and Toyota worked together as singular units to dominate the draft.
The Bowtie Brigade finally rectified that problem on Sunday afternoon, however, getting their drivers to cooperate and help one another in drafting situations at long last.
Chevrolet drivers worked together almost exclusively throughout the day, heeding the pleas of the brand’s U.S. Vice President for Performance Vehicles and Motorsports Jim Campbell after a sequence of meetings held between the Bowtie Cup Series teams to come up with a plan of attack for Talladega.
That team commitment was rewarded with a trip to victory lane by Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott.
It was Chevrolet’s first superspeedway win since the 2018 Daytona 500 by Austin Dillon, and the brand’s first triumph at Talladega since a victory by now-retired Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2015.
More importantly, it was a statement to the rest of the field that Chevrolet has finally figured out the teamwork game. They swept the top three finishing positions and put six Camaro ZL1s inside the top 10.
Sunday marked a stark turnaround for Chevrolet at the 2.66-mile Alabama track, after years of its drivers working with their own agendas and formulating their own plans for success in the draft.
That wasn’t so on this particular day, as noted by the eventual race winner in victory lane.
“We just had a plan and executed it really well,” said Elliott. “Obviously it could have gone both ways, but fortunately everybody stayed together and stayed the course, because it led us to a great result.
“I felt like it was a team win, for sure. The large majority of the day we were working together as a bowtie group, as Team Chevy, and I felt like we executed that well,” he added. “There’s certainly power in numbers at these races. When you have guys being selfless, wanting to push and make the lane go, it makes a difference. It certainly worked out for us today, though I know it didn’t work out for some.”
Manufacturer lines were certainly visible following the race’s final restart with four laps left, as Kurt Busch hung his younger brother Kyle Busch out to dry on the outside lane in favor of dropping down in front of Elliott – a fellow Chevrolet driver.
While the elder Busch ultimately got shuffled out after taking a run high to go after then-leader Joey Logano, four more Chevrolets – Elliott, Alex Bowman, Ryan Preece and Daniel Hemric – stayed committed to one another on the bottom and were right there for the taking as the outside lane faded.
The quartet moved into the top four spots on the bottom and held that formation for three-and-a-half laps as their rivals attempted to mount a charge back against them, to no avail.
Though a final-lap caution prevented Bowman from taking a shot at his teammate for the win, he still smiled after the race at how his fellow Camaro drivers executed the plan to perfection through the day.
“It was a case where we just finally stuck to something,” Bowman noted. “We talked about it before and hadn’t executed, but today I felt like every Chevy driver was all in on (the plan) and all in on getting a Chevy driver to victory lane. We were able to do that in both stages and a Bowtie won the race, to boot.
“I wish we could have won it, but I’m pumped for Chase and if I had to push someone to the win, I guess he’s not a bad guy to help get to victory lane.”
Hemric pointed out that at a track like Talladega, it takes a lot of things going right to be able to pull off a plan like the Chevrolet teams did on Sunday, as well as a massive amount of work behind the scenes.
“It’s just good to see Chevrolet and all the teams to put in the effort to communicate and try to stay dedicated and committed to one another,” Hemric said. “We’ve never had the unity on the race track that we did today and that ultimately gave us our best finish, and my best finish, as a group.
“The first objective was to make sure that a Bowtie ended up in victory lane today, and that’s what happened.”
Sunday’s culture change for Chevrolet – spearheaded by Campbell – was just as quickly applauded by him after the post-race festivities concluded, even if one eye was already on the next Cup Series race.
“Congratulations to Chase Elliott, Alan Gustafson and Hendrick Motorsports on today’s win,” said Campbell. “Importantly, I’m really proud of all the Chevrolet drivers, crew chiefs, engineers, spotters, competition directors and team owners on how they worked together to get the best results today. It was great to see Camaro ZL1 drivers in the top three spots and six in the top 10.
“Now it’s time to focus forward to Dover.”