Elliott drives from back of the field to first NASCAR title

Elliott drives from back of the field to first NASCAR title
Chase Elliott (9) races through Turn 4 during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Avondale, Ariz. (Source: AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — NASCAR’s most popular driver is now a Cup champion, too.

Chase Elliott took the torch from teammate Jimmie Johnson by winning his first Cup title Sunday, driving from the back of the field to victory lane at Phoenix Raceway. The win for Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet was the first since Johnson, who retired after the race, won his seventh and final crown in 2016.

Elliott’s car failed pre-race inspection and the penalty cost him the pole when he was sent to the rear. But he raced his way through traffic in the first stage and then took control of the championship.

Johnson finished fifth — his best result since August — in his final ride in Hendrick’s No. 48 Chevrolet.

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