They say everything is bigger in Texas. After Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, rookie Chase Elliott proved that even race wins are even bigger in Texas.
The win was so big, drivers from several teams made it a point to stop and give Elliott a high five for his effort for holding off Sprint Cup drivers Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Kyle Busch for the win in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson even made an appearance in Victory Lane to offer his congratulations to the 18-year-old winner.
Elliott started in the sixth position and stayed in the top ten for much of the race. Harvick led the first 87 laps of the race. He would give up the lead to Kyle Busch who would lead 38 laps on the evening.
Still hanging on in the top five with Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson trading the lead, Chase Elliott was starting to gain on the leaders. By lap 147, Elliott was challenging his JR Motorsports boss, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., for the lead. On lap 155, a crash involving Jamie Dick and Chris Buescher would set up the money pit stops and Harvick won the race out of pit road. Harvick got a good charge on the restart but Elliott was right on his bumper. With 15 laps to go, Elliott claimed the lead and drove away from the field.
Every other driver watched the rookie stripes on the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet for JR Motorsports pass over the start/finish line in the first position.
It was Chase Elliott’s first race at Texas Motor Speedway and he’s a winner. This was also his first win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in six starts.
Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Ty Dillon started in the rear of the field after they missed their opportunity to qualify in the race. They were held up in the tech line with repeat visits and weren’t able to turn in a lap so they paid the price and started at the end of the line. It didn’t take Busch and Larson long to pick through the field. They both lead laps in the contest. Ty Dillon stalled in his charge to the front. He stayed in the 15th position for a long while but was able to enter the top ten by lap 74. All three would finish in the top ten.
Five cautions were called during the race – none of which were debris cautions. Trevor Bayne spun to bring out the first caution, Robert Richardson, Jr. lost an engine to bring out the second caution, Tanner Berryhill lost a tire on the track for caution number three, Chad Boat got into the wall for the fourth caution and Chris Buescher and Jamie Dick had contact which brought out the last caution on lap 168.
Kevin Harvick led the most laps with 101. He fought a tight condition in the middle of the race and told his crew that it was “plowing” and could turn the car. He fought hard to keep the lead in the final restart of the night, but Chase Elliott had the strongest car.
The top ten: Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Matt Kenseth, Regan Smith, Ryan Blaney, Ty Dillon and Elliott Sadler.
Chase Elliott now leads the points standings with two points over Regan Smith. Ty Dillon sits in third place ten points out of first. Trevor Bayne led the points coming into the evening and slipped to fifth after finishing 23rd.
The next NASCAR Nationwide Series race will be Friday, April 11 at 8 p.m. ET at Darlington Raceway for the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200.