Dawsonville NASCAR driver Chase Elliott posted a fourth-place finish on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway in the Visit Myrtle Beach 300 Nationwide Series event. How he will ultimately choose to interpret the result is a matter of perspective.
On one hand, Elliott led 20 of the final 26 laps but gave up the lead to both Ty Dillon and eventual winner Brendan Gaughan on the final restart. On the other, he still finished ahead of teammate and championship rival Regan Smith and leads the championship standings by a sizeable 20 point margin with only six races remaining
Dillon surged by Elliott in Turn 3 off the final restart but the 18-year-old executed a textbook crossover maneuver to reclaim the position coming out of Turn 4. The battle allowed Gaughan to quickly close the gap, shoot to the outside, and take the lead entering Turn 1. He would never look back, claiming his second victory of the year in a top-5 that included Brian Scott, Dillon, Elliott and Smith.
In hindsight, Elliott wishes he could get a do-over on that final restart.
It was definitely a little disappointing, Elliott said of the final restart. I had a couple decent restarts, I thought. The biggest thing was we gave ourselves an opportunity to win. For a night like tonight where our car wasnt perfect, thats all you can ask for.
Elliott started the race ninth but quickly worked his way into the top-5, where he would remain throughout the event.
The team made their final pit stop on lap 171 of 200 and gave Elliott only right side tires, a decision that netted the team valuable track position as they would restart second beside Dillon. Elliott took the lead on the restart, held on to it during a series of late restarts but couldnt keep the lead when it mattered most.
Im proud of the effort, Elliott said. (Crew chief) Greg (Ives) made some really good calls. We were at least able to get up front and give ourselves a chance. Unfortunately, I couldnt get the job done for us tonight, but we had a shot and led some laps there in the closing stages.
Its like I said though, for nights when you are not 100 percent perfect, thats the stuff youve got to do so Im proud of the effort.
As Saturday night was a standalone event, the Nationwide Series will again rejoin the Sprint Cup Series in Dover, Delaware next weekend for a 200-lap event. The race is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.