“Awesome Chase," as in Chase Elliott, may not have the same ring to it that the saying “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” did when legendary driver Bill Elliott was turning laps full time on the track. But Chase Elliott proved once again that the apple does not fall far from the Dawsonville, Georgia family tree.
Chase Elliott, son of former driver and 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bill Elliott, captured the checkered flag and series points lead this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. The NASCAR Nationwide Series rumbled into Joliet, just outside of Chicago, and put on a weekend show with the ARCA Racing Series that was capped off when Elliott locked up an impressive third NATIONWIDE Series win.
An Unbelievable Night
"This is an unbelievable night," Elliott said after celebrating with his team.
"We were fortunate enough to be in contention on that last pit stop; the guys busted their butts for me and that was the deciding factor. We all, as a team, we completed our task tonight. And that was the difference."
Don’t think a pit stop was the only reason that the younger of the Elliott drivers was the race winner. Sure, it matters that pit stops go smoothly but driver skills and a good car come into play as well. The proof is that Elliott led 85 of the 200 laps. His closest competitor was Ryan Blaney who led 47 laps during the night.
Pit strategy came into play as many of the lead cars hoped they could stretch things out to the end. The field of cars shuffled during the hurried green-flag pit stops around the 161 lap. Bayne cycled out with the race lead as several of the cars at the front dove into the pits for quick adjustments and a splash of gas. It looked as if Bayne would have the deal sealed up until he was forced to make his own stop around lap 176.
The pit stop that Elliott mentioned came towards the end of the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway which gave the young driver an advantage over his competition. The competition was in the form of former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne as well as Kyle Larson and Ty Dillon. All three drivers commented that their cars were either “good” or “coming to them” towards the end of the race but that there were not enough laps left to reel Elliott in.
"We got our car turning there at the end," Bayne said.
"That's probably the strongest weekend we've had in a while. Had it stayed green for another 15, we might have had it, but that's 15 laps we'll never know about. I thought we had a real good car," Larson added. "I had some fun, just frustrating coming in third when I thought we had a real good chance to win."
Elliott took the lead for the last time while Bayne took on gas and fresh tires in hopes of being able to track Elliott down in the final laps. It would not happen as Elliot was able to hold off the field as he cruised to victory. Bayne came closest with a second place finish followed by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne. The rest of the top ten consisted of Ty Dillon, Brian Scott, Erik Jones, Chris Buescher, Ryan Blaney, and Elliott Sadler.