Dawsonville NASCAR driver Chase Elliott dodged a major bullet Saturday afternoon, overcoming damage from an early incident to finish third in the Dover 200 Nationwide Series event at Dover International Speedway.
He extended his championship lead in the process.
Elliott started the race in the second position and remained there throughout the first stint of the race until a crash between Tanner Berryhill and Kevin Swindell erupted directly in front of him on lap 37, bringing out the first caution.
Berryhill and Swindell bounced off each other on the backstretch and Elliott had nowhere to go but directly into the Swindell Dodge. The crash dealt a considerable amount of damage to the NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet and it took two trips down pit road, under caution, to repair the damage.
A massive tape job to the nose of the Elliott Chevrolet proved to be a good strategy.
Elliott restarted the race in 23rd on lap 47 and slowly worked his way towards the front, cracking the top-five by lap 90. Despite the obvious damage, Elliott reported that his car seemed faster than it was prior to the crash and that he believed he could win the race, especially when caution again slowed the field on lap 147.
Elliott and his team opted for right-side tires and enough fuel to make the distance and would restart third following the caution. He would remain there, behind Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, for the rest of the event.
The result would allow him to increase his championship lead by six points, giving him a 28-point advantage over JR Motorsports teammate and title rival Regan Smith with only five races remaining this season. Chris Buescher and Elliott Sadler completed the top-5 behind Busch, Logano and Elliott.
Elliott called his day frustrating but eventually rewarding.
We kind of managed our time in the beginning, and then I made a mistake following those guys way too close, Elliott said of his early-race incident. It was completely my fault. I drove into a wreck, and we got behind and could never get to the front from that point forward.
Elliott credits his team for their rebound following the three-car incident.
My team gave me an awesome car today, he continued. From the drop of the green, we had speed and I knew we had a car capable of winning. We just couldnt overcome the early mistake. I was very pleased with the way my team taped up the car and got it to where it was still competitive. We battled as hard as we could. It just wasnt enough.
Next up for Elliott and the Nationwide Series is the annual autumn stop at Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Lottery 300. The race is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. ET green flag and will be televised live on ESPN.