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Here Comes The Son: Elliott Takes Texas

Here Comes The Son: Elliott Takes Texas

by April 5, 2014 0 comments

Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway

FORT WORTH, Texas. — At 18 years, four months, and seven days, Chase Elliott became the second-youngest race winner ever in the NASCAR Nationwide Series by winning the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night.

The 18-year-old and son of 1988 Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott beat Sprint Cup drivers such as Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, and team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. to secure the victory. As a sign of respect, Busch, Larson, and Harvick congratulated Elliott as he drove his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro down pit road on his way to victory lane; six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson congratulated the race winner in victory lane.

With his win, Elliott not only earned his first career Nationwide Series victory but also seized the series’ points lead by finishing ahead of teammate Regan Smith by six positions.

“I can’t believe it,” Elliott said in victory lane. “Just to have the opportunity to race with these guys at JR Motorsports, just to have this opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any racer who wants to make it to the top. It just means the world for me to be here.”

JR Motorsports had the dominant set of race cars during the race with Elliott, Harvick, and Earnhardt combining to lead 154 of the 200 completed laps. Harvick dominated the early stages of the race, leading the first 87 laps of the race before being overtaken by Busch. A lap 178 restart set the stage for a 23-lap shootout between both Harvick and Elliott, who shared the front row to bring the field back to green. Harvick would lead for six laps before being passed by Elliott, who led for the final 15 laps before crossing the finish line first by 2.6 seconds.

At the conclusion of the race, all four JR Motorsports cars ended the race in the top-seven. During the post-race press conference, Earnhardt expressed his pride for his rookie driver winning in his sixth career Nationwide Series start.

“It’s pretty awesome to see him succeed, I knew it was just a matter of time,” Earnhardt said. “He’s got so much ability and composure and he’s just years ahead of guys that are normally of that age. He’s learning so fast on the fly, people ask me if I talk to him or tutor him or anything but he’s learning so fast – he’s learning faster than you can teach him what’s going on. It’s a lot of fun to be able to work with great people, great drivers, and great talent and we’re fortunate to have him and I’m sure he’s enjoying himself. Bill [Elliott]’s happy, the whole team is excited, we’ve got a whole year ahead of us, we’ve got a great opportunity to get more.”

While Smith managed to finish in the seventh-position, Trevor Bayne was caught up in a lap-43 incident when his right-rear tire went flat, sending him for a spin in Turn 4. Bayne was unable to recover from the incident and would ultimately finish in the 23rd position, five laps down. This led to a reshuffling of the points as Bayne fell three positions in the points standings to fifth-place in the standings, 18 points out of first.

With his victory, Elliott will take a two-point points lead to Darlington Raceway for next Friday’s VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200.

O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Top-10 Results

  1. 9 – Chase Elliott# – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
  2. 54 – Kyle Busch(i) – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  3. 42 – Kyle Larson(i) – Chevrolet – Turner-Scott Motorsports
  4. 5 – Kevin Harvick(i) – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
  5. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.(i) – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
  6. 20 – Matt Kenseth(i) – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  7. 7 – Regan Smith – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
  8. 22 – Ryan Blaney(i) – Ford – Team Penske
  9. 3 – Ty Dillon# – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
  10. 11 – Elliott Sadler – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing

(i) = Ineligible for Nationwide Series drivers points.

# = Rookie.

NASCAR Nationwide Series Drivers’ Standings after Round 6 of 33

  1. 9 – Chase Elliott# – JR Motorsports – 224 | Leader | +3
  2. 7 – Regan Smith – JR Motorsports – 222 | -2 | -1
  3. 3 – Ty Dillon# – Richard Childress Racing – 214 | -10 | –
  4. 11 – Elliott Sadler – Joe Gibbs Racing – 208 | -16 | +1
  5. 6 – Trevor Bayne – Roush-Fenway Racing – 206 | -18 | -3
  6. 62 – Brendan Gaughan – Richard Childress Racing – 193 | -31 | –
  7. 2 – Brian Scott – Richard Childress Racing – 192 | -32 | –
  8. 31 – Dylan Kwasniewski# – Turner-Scott Motorsports – 179 | -45 | –
  9. 99 – James Buescher – RAB Racing – 176 | -48 | –
  10. 16 – Ryan Reed# – Roush-Fenway Racing – 141 | -83 | +2

# = Rookie.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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