Dawsonville NASCAR driver Chase Elliott won his third race of the season regaining the Nationwide Series championship lead.
Racing in the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 at Chicagloland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. on Saturday, Elliott continued to adapt to the Nationwide Series at a pace that has quickly become the stuff of legend in just his first full-time season.
Elliott enjoyed perhaps his most dominating performance yet this season, leading a race high 85 laps (of 300) and held off a hard-charging Trevor Bayne -- the former Daytona 500 winner -- who couldnt close the gap despite much fresher tires than Elliott over the final 20-plus lap stretch.
His third victory of the season followed triumphs at Texas Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway and allows Elliott to take a seven point championship advantage over Regan Smith into the next race at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The start was Elliotts first visit to Chicagoland Speedway, yet another 1.5-mile intermediate track. He credits his JR Motorsport teammates, Smith and Kasey Kahne in helping him adapt from his short track background to the high-banked speed plants of the Nationwide Series.
I did have some questions that I asked them, and I definitely think they helped tonight, Elliott said after the race. Im so thankful to have a couple great teammates, and its good to have something to lean back on with those guys.
Elliott led four times and took up the point for the final time on lap 177 and ultimately nipped Bayne by 1.7 seconds. Having pitted for fresher tires later than Elliott, Bayne was closing the gap on the Dawsonvilledriver but simply ran out of time.
We got our car turning there at the end, Bayne said. Thats probably the strongest weekend weve had in a while. Had it stayed green for another 15 laps, we might have had it, but thats 15 laps well never know about.
As it stands, Elliott tied Sprint Cup Series regular Kyle Busch for the most victories in Nationwide competition this year. He also put himself in excellent position to become the first rookie of the year candidate to capture the season championship with 14 races remaining.
This was an unbelievable night, Elliott said. 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.
Bayne, Kyle Larson, Kahne and Ty Dillon completed the top-5. The next stop for the Nationwide Series will come on Saturday afternoon in the Indiana 250 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Busch is the defending event winner and the green flag is expected to drop at 4:30 p.m.