Chase Elliott scores third win of the season at Chicagoland
Chase Elliott held off a late charge by Trevor Bayne to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Chase Elliott drove his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet into victory lane for the third time in the 2014 race season Saturday night with his win of the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
The No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Trevor Bayne was second, 1.7 seconds behind Elliott.
"This is an unbelievable night," Elliott said. "We were able to run up front all night, and that's what it takes."
Elliott led a race-high 85 circuits in the 200-lap race.
The only two Sprint Cup Series regulars in the race, Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne, battled for third in the closing laps, with Larson's No. 42 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet winning out. Kahne's No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet was relegated to fourth. The No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Ty Dillon rounded out the top-five.
"Somehow I was just really loose that last run," Larson said. "Kasey closed in on me, but I was able to hold him off."
Elliott took the point just past lap 140 when previous race leader Kyle Larson got loose and scraped the wall. Elliott then gave up the lead around lap 154 to begin the final cycle of green flag pit stops.
"The guys were able to bust off a fast stop for me, and that was the difference," Elliott said.
With several drivers pitting during the final caution of the race about 40 laps laps before the start of the green cycle, the final cycle of green flag stops was a lengthy one, with Bayne staying out and leading several laps before hitting pit road for the final time.
When the cycle finally did conclude, Elliott was back up front and maintained his lead for the remainder of the race distance. After pitting late, Bayne returned to the track in the second position.
"I love running up in that grey, and we really got our car turning," Bayne said. "Another 15 laps, and we may have had him."
Elliott also led early in the race. After pole sitter Brian Scott ran up front with his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet led the first 24 laps of the race, Elliott took over the top spot on lap 25.
The No. 22 Team Penske Ford of Ryan Blaney got by Scott for second soon after lap 40. By that time, Elliott had a lead of 4.1 seconds. After the first cycle of green flag stops around the 50-lap mark, Elliott's lead had swelled to 8.2 seconds.
That margin was erased, though, by a yellow flag for debris around lap 70. Elliott restarted with the lead, but lost the top spot to Blaney on the restart. Elliott lost a few more positions, including a spot to Larson.
Larson took the lead from Blaney on a restart on lap 127 and showed the way until his contact with the wall.
Elliott reclaimed the Nationwide Series championship points lead from JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith, driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet. Smith finished the race in the 15th position.
Elliott is also eligible for the Nationwide Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus in the next race at Indianaplis Motor Speedway on July 26.
As the next two highest-finishing championship-eligible drivers, Bayne and Dillon will also race for the Dash 4 Cash bonus in Indianapolis.
Scott finished sixth, the highest of the four Dash 4 Cash drivers on Saturday, to take the Chicagoland bonus and to, again, be eligible for the bonus next weekend.
"I felt like we were better than a sixth-place car," Scott said. "We'll take sixth."
Smith's No. 7, the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Chris Buescher and the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Elliott Sadler were the three cars Scott had to beat to claim the Chicagoland bonus. Buescher and Sadler did manage top-10 finishes, finishing eighth and 10th.
Erik Jones drove the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to a seventh-place finish in his Nationwide Series debut. Blaney finished ninth.