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Elliott stays in the lead

POSTED: August 13, 2014 4:00 a.m.

Dawsonville's Chase Elliott continues to hold onto his top points spot after his 15th top-10 finish of the season.
The driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet finished sixth during Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen International Speedway in Watkins Glen, NY.

"It was a struggle for me all weekend and you just have to improve on [road racing] if you want to run with those guys that win these races," Elliott said in a release. "You have to bring your best, and then some. Those guys that run up front in these races are bad to the bone."

While he didn't claim the top spot at the track, Elliott still holds on to the top points standing, increasing his lead to 12 points over teammate Regan Smith in the series standing.

"This is what we have to do during the week's we show up to the race track and aren't on the top of our game," Elliott said. "We were able to gain some in the race when I got behind some of those faster guys and I was able to learn a little bit."
Elliott was also the highest finishing rookie in the event.

Starting 15th in the lineup after a working all weekend to find the needed speed from his car, Elliott and his team moved up in the ranks early. By lap 11, Elliott moved to 12th position.

However, his team was penalized for jumping over the wall too early during its first pit stop, which came under caution on lap 12. Following the restart, Elliott was shuffled back to the 23rd position.

"Today was an example of my NAPA Auto Parts team never giving up," Elliott said. "We are still not exactly where we need to be, so we'll learn from it."

At 20 laps to completion, the final restart of the race came, with Elliott restarting fifth in what became the longest green-flag stretch. During the final laps of the race, Elliott built an eight second advantage over seventh-place Elliott Sadler.

As for what's next in Elliott's career, owner Rick Hendrick has NASCAR Sprint Cup Series plans for the 18-year-old star.

"Mr. Hendrick has a great plan for Chase going forward that we all believe in, and those particulars will be filtering out and announced whenever they're ready to be announced. But now's not the time," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., co-owner of his JR Motorsports race team, during an interview.

Elliott not only tops the Nationwide Series standings, but also leads all series regulars with three race victories.

Earnhardt has said that Elliott will probably run another full season on NASCAR's No. 2 circuit next year.

Hendrick, also a co-owner at JRM, implied a few premier series starts could also be in the future.

This talk comes on the heels of the announcement that Elliott's crew chief, Greg Ives, will move to Sprint Cup next season to oversee Earnhardt's program.

During the announcement for Ives' move, Earnhardt said Hendrick had "a great plan" for Elliott, who will have a new crew chief for his Nationwide program in 2015.

"We definitely have a lot of things that we're very, very excited about for Chase," he said in a news release. "We feel like he's got a great opportunity, not only in (2015) to have a great, successful season with whoever's his crew chief, but also this year with Greg and what they have remaining this year. I'm excited to get that information out there, and will do that when the time comes."

Tickets for Elliott's first career NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Aug. 30 are still available at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Feed The Children anti-hunger campaign.

 

 

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