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Elliott claims maiden Nationwide win

Nationwide rookie Chase Elliott found himself headed to victory lane for the first time on Friday night in Texas after beating a pack of Cup regulars to the line.
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Nationwide Series championship standings.

18-year-old NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie Chase Elliott comfortably held off five experienced Sprint Cup regulars to claim victory in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300, under the floodlights at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night in what was just his sixth race in the series, making him the second-youngest winner in series history.

"I can't it believe it, man," said Elliott after the race. "I can't believe it. It's awesome, and I can't thank everybody enough," he said, the high school senior quipping that he'd have "a bunch of homework" to do when he got home on Monday to keep him grounded.

Elliott's achievement was lauded by his father, veteran longtime NASCAR driver Bill Elliott, who professed himself "about speechless" with the evening's result. "I'll tell you what, you've done a heck of a job," he marvelled. "I keep saying it: never to have been at some of these places like Vegas, California and now here at Texas, and to come out and beat the kind of guys he beat..."

Elliott's JR Motorsports teammate Kevin Harvick earlier took his first pole position at Texas after sweeping all three rounds of the elimination format, finally clinching top spot with a lap of 29.195s (184.963mph) at the 1.5-mile oval. His 25th pole in 305 Nationwide starts put him alongside Joe Gibbs Racing's Matt Kenseth on the front row of the grid. Kenseth's team mate Kyle Busch was among several drivers caught out by an unusually high number of issues passing through technical inspection. In the end, Busch along with Ty Dillon and Kyle Larson were all too late to run a qualifying lap and were duly relegated to the back of the grid for the start of Friday night's race.

It took Busch only ten laps to move all the way forward into the top ten, but it was Harvick who maintained the lead for the first 87 laps which included three different cautions, the first for a spin by Trevor Bayne in turn 4 that left the #6 dropping debris on the track on lap 43, and the second for Robert Richardson hitting the wall in turn 2 on lap 54. The third yellow was sparked by a tyre blow-out for Tanner Berryhill leaving debris on the frontstretch.

Busch had moved into second place behind Harvick for the restart on lap 69 but was beaten by Kyle Larson, who had followed Busch through the pack on his own recovery drive from the back of the grid, while immediately behind them were two drivers who had started in the top six and continued their qualifying form into strong race pace - Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. However the man to beat in this stint was Kyle Busch, and he pipped Harvick to the line on lap 88 by one thousandths of a second and then proceeded to complete the pass and move into the lead, although that state of affairs only lasted a dozen laps before the #54 was obliged to pit at the midway point of the 200-lap race and Busch was forced to wait ten laps for the cycle to play itself out before he regained the top spot again.

Busch was still leading on lap 122 when Chad Boat spun out while exiting turn 4, and at the restart Elliott worked his way past Harvick and Earnhardt to put himself into contention for the lead, which he claimed on lap 135 as Busch lost his earlier edge and dropped back to fourth. Elliott quickly pulled out a second over Earnhardt, in what was only his second time out in front in a Nationwide race (having previously led two laps at Fontana a fortnight ago.) This time he made it 20 before finally being forced to turn over the spoils to his team mate and boss Earnhardt on lap 155.

The fifth and final caution of the night materialised on lap 169 when James Buescher and Jamie Dick made contact and Dick then crashed on the backstretch, collecting Chris Buescher in the process. That enabled Harvick to take the lead off pit road, having earlier dropped back complaining of tight handling in the #5. Despite improving significantly, the car was still unable to hold off sustained pressure from Elliott who passed on the outside to go to the front on lap 185, setting himself up as the bullseye for all Cup regulars were massing up to aim for.

“It just seemed like he throttled up and drove right past him,” said an impressed Kyle Busch, who had a ringside seat for the move. "He was just that strong ... Once he got by Harvick, he was just so good. He was in a league of his own for about the last 70 laps."

Busch also quickly passed Harvick to take up the position of pursuer-in-chief, while Larson, Earnhardt and Kenseth also did their best to ensure the leaders didn't get away. Behind them, Regan Smith led the challenge from a pack of Nationwide Series regulars including Ty Dillon, Elliott Sadler, Brendan Gaughan, Brian Scott and James Buescher. Ultimately though, Chase Elliott really was in a class of his own and more than up to the challenge of staying out of reach of his would-be usurpers, and when the chequered flag came out he was over two and a half seconds ahead of Busch and Larson. His victory means that he takes over the points lead of the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship by two points from Regan Smith, while Ty Dillon remains in third place ahead of Elliott Sadler.

Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Nationwide Series championship standings.



Related Pictures

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Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with Ryan Pemberton after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, August 17, 2014 in the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS finished second. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Ford Mustang Ford takes the chequered flag to win the Nationwide Children`s 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, drives the #60 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Ford Mustang Ford during the Nationwide Children`s 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Ford Mustang Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the Nationwide Children`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Ford Mustang Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the Nationwide Children`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field at the start of the Nationwide Childrens`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS, qualified sixth Friday, August 15, 2014 for Sunday`s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Harvick is 8th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #09 Stanley Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #09 Stanley Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #09 Stanley Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
The #28 Texas 28 Spirits Stage Dodge, driven by JJ Yeley, is seen after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, and Joey Logano, driver of the #12 Snap-On Ford, lead the field to the green flag for the running of the NASCAR Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates with a burn out after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by New Holland at Iowa Speedway on August 2, 2014 in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Trevor Bayne, driver of the #6 AdvoCare Ford, leads the field during the start of the Nationwide Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on August 2, 2014 in Newton, Iowa (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

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