NASCAR Nationwide: Chase Elliott wins wins first in series

jutter@charlotteobserver.comApril 4, 2014 

— It was, well, awesome.

Chase Elliott, the 18-year-old son of former NASCAR Cup series champion “Awesome” Bill Elliott, held off an army of Cup series drivers to win Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway for his first victory in the Nationwide Series.

Elliott’s victory served as a statement of NASCAR’s past, present and future.

For a good portion of the race, Elliott raced side-by-side and nose-to-tail with his team owner and Cup driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. The on-track battles between Bill Elliott and the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. were a large part of what NASCAR’s popularity was built on.

“This is just unbelievable, man,” Chase said from Victory Lane. “To have this opportunity was once in a lifetime. It means the world to me to be here.

“I went to Kevin Harvick for a lot of advice this week and to pass him for the lead – I just can’t believe it.”

Chase’s father was beaming with pride after the win.

“I’m about speechless,” Bill Elliott said. “Everything about this deal was so on the fence up until January.

“I felt like Chase could to do it. For never to have been to some of these places and to beat the guys he beat – he’s done a heck of a job.”

Kyle Busch finished second, Kyle Larson was third, Kevin Harvick was fourth and Earnhardt fifth.

Harvick, who started on the pole, was the first car off pit road on the final round of pit stops on Lap 171 of 200. Elliott lined up second and Earnhardt third.

After running on Harvick’s bumper for several laps, Elliott made a power move to Harvick’s outside and took over the lead on Lap 186.

Once in the lead, Elliott moved out to a big lead and was never seriously challenged for the top spot.

“Congratulations to Chase,” Earnhardt said. “I know they are thrilled to get a victory. That kid is going to do a lot of great things.”

JR Motorsports had four cars in the race and came away with a strong take – Elliott was first, Harvick fourth, Earnhardt fifth and Regan Smith seventh.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: jim_utter

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