Chase Elliott gets first Nationwide win

Chase Elliott

When Chase Elliott took the checkered flag in Friday night's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, cementing his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory, spotter Earl Barban had a message for him.

"I want to see the best burnout ever," Barban told the 18-year-old son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott.

Chase Elliott obliged, laying a thick could of smoke from the exit of the tri-oval back to the flag stand.

Elliott had reason to celebrate. He had just beaten the top talents in the stock car racing universe, whipping around Kevin Harvick to the outside in Turn 4 to take the lead on Lap 185 of 200.

Ultimately, Elliott would pull away for the victory, finishing 2.666 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch, who ran second. Kyle Larson came home third, followed by Harvick, who lost ground after the last restart on Lap 178 of 200.

Elliott's team owner at JR Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished fifth. Both Busch and Larson started from the rear of the field after failing to clear inspection before the first round of Friday afternoon knockout qualifying concluded. Elliott took the series lead by two points over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith, who ran seventh.

Elliott, the NASCAR Next graduate, claimed his first national series win last September in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park when he became that series' youngest winner at the time. Erik Jones eclipsed that mark at Phoenix last fall. Elliott now becomes the second youngest driver to win in the Nationwide Series, behind Joey Logano.

Harvick won the pole in the qualifying session. He also gave Elliott some advice that may have come back to haunt him.

"I can't it believe it, man," Elliott said after climbing from his car in Victory Lane. "It's crazy. I went to him (Harvick) for a lot of advice this week, and helped me out, gave me some tips. … To pass him for the lead is really crazy. I can't believe it. It's awesome, and I can't thank everybody enough."

The win also vindicated Bill Elliott's assessment of his son's talent.

"I'm about speechless," Elliott said. "I can't thank Rick Hendrick, all the guys at HMS (Hendrick Motorsports), JR Motorsports for pulling this deal together, and (sponsor) NAPA for putting together at the last minute. Everything was on the fence all the way till January.

"I keep saying it. Never to have been at some of these places like Vegas, California and now here at Texas, and to come out and beat the kind of guys he beat — I'll tell you what, you've done a heck of a job."

Harvick led the first 86 laps, but lost the top spot to Busch in an excellent three-way battle that featured the same three drivers — Harvick, Busch and Larson — who fought for the win in Fontana, Calif., two weeks earlier, with Larson getting his first NNS victory.

Busch remained out front before and after the first cycle of green-flag pit stops around the midpoint of the race, but after a caution on Lap 121 for Chad Boat's wreck on the frontstretch, the entire complexion of the race changed.

Busch restarted with the lead after a round of pit stops under the yellow but lost the lead to Elliott on Lap 135. Complaining of a tight handling condition, Harvick dropped from second to seventh before his car started to cooperate.

On Lap 155, Earnhardt passed Elliott for the lead and quickly extended his advantage to more than two seconds before Jamie Dick's wreck on the backstretch caused the fifth caution on Lap 169.

Harvick, who had regained the fourth position during the 43-lap run after the restart, took advantage of a 12.4-second pit stop to retake the lead on pit road under the yellow. Coming to the green flag for a restart on Lap 178, Harvick led Elliott, Earnhardt, Larson and Busch, in that order, but that changed in a flash, as Busch dived to the inside in Turn 1, outdueled Larson for third and charged after Harvick for the second spot.

Results

Pos # Driver Make Start Laps Led Status
1 9 Chase Elliott Chevrolet 6 200 38 Running
2 54 Kyle Busch Toyota 36 200 38 Running
3 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 37 200 1 Running
4 5 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 1 200 101 Running
5 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 4 200 15 Running
6 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 2 200 1 Running
7 7 Regan Smith Chevrolet 3 200 0 Running
8 22 Ryan Blaney Ford 9 200 0 Running
9 3 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 38 200 0 Running
10 11 Elliott Sadler Toyota 5 200 0 Running
11 62 Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 7 200 0 Running
12 2 Brian Scott Chevrolet 13 200 0 Running
13 99 James Buescher Toyota 11 200 0 Running
14 31 Dylan Kwasniewski Chevrolet 10 200 0 Running
15 44 David Starr Toyota 12 199 2 Running
16 93 J.J. Yeley Dodge 17 199 2 Running
17 39 Ryan Sieg Chevrolet 21 199 2 Running
18 51 Jeremy Clements Chevrolet 18 198 0 Running
19 4 Jeffrey Earnhardt Chevrolet 23 198 0 Running
20 16 Ryan Reed Ford 16 196 0 Running
21 40 Josh Wise Chevrolet 20 195 0 Running
22 43 Dakoda Armstrong Ford 25 195 0 Running
23 6 Trevor Bayne Ford 8 195 0 Running
24 14 Eric McClure Toyota 29 194 0 Running
25 87 Kevin Lepage Chevrolet 24 194 0 Running
26 52 Joey Gase Chevrolet 27 191 0 Running
27 60 Chris Buescher Ford 39 167 0 Accident
28 55 Jamie Dick Chevrolet 26 164 0 Accident
29 74 Mike Harmon Dodge 33 131 0 Suspension
30 17 Tanner Berryhill Dodge 30 120 0 Wheel Bearing
31 84 Chad Boat Chevrolet 14 119 0 Accident
32 19 Mike Bliss Toyota 15 119 0 Running
33 01 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 19 66 0 Vibration
34 23 Robert Richardson Chevrolet 31 52 0 Accident
35 76 Tommy Joe Martins Dodge 22 34 0 Brakes
36 28 Derek White Dodge 35 29 0 Transmission
37 13 Mike Wallace Toyota 32 23 0 Electrical
38 70 Derrike Cope Chevrolet 34 6 0 Engine
39 46 Matt DiBenedetto Chevrolet 28 5 0 Vibration
40 10 Blake Koch Toyota 40 2 0 Vibration

Leave a Reply