Even though Dawsonville NASCAR driver Chase Elliott did not win the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 Nationwide Series event on Friday night at Richmond International Raceway, he did achieve the most the race was likely going to offer -- finishing second to Kyle Busch.
The Sprint Cup Series driver was literally untouchable on Friday night, leading all 250 laps from wire-to-wire despite six cautions and restarts, the scenario that cost him a win on the most recent short track at Bristol two weeks ago.
The final restart came with 18 laps to go and saw Busch once again pull away from Elliott and Kevin Harvick, stretching his lead while the two JR Motorsport teammates battled behind him. The win for Busch was his fourth of the season while Elliott was able to extend his championship lead to 19 points over Regan Smith, his other teammate, who finished sixth in the 40-car field.
Busch was also the most recent driver to lead every single lap of a Nationwide event, having done so at Phoenix back in the spring of 2011.
Elliott also finished second at Richmond back in April and the 18-year-old Hendrick Motorsports top prospect admits that he and his team have some work to do to make the jump from the podium to Victory Lane before the series again returns to the .750-mile short track in seven months.
Well, we didnt win, Elliott said. We were one spot short back in the spring and we were one spot short tonight so unless you win the race, and even when you do win the race -- there is always work to do. Were definitely not satisfied and I dont think anyone feels satisfied finishing second so well get back to work.
Elliott ought to be satisfied with his sizeable championship advantage over Smith with only eight races remaining but he remains unfocused on the points battle, taking the season one race at a time, just like he has throughout the first eight months of his full-time NASCAR career.
This is a question that has been asked over and over for the past several weeks, Elliott said of the championship topic. If you can go out each week and contend for wins and top-5s against this competition, the points and all that stuff will take care of themselves.
I feel as though the same effort that it takes to go out and win races each week are ultimately the ones that you need to win a championship.
Elliott next takes his championship lead to Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. for the Jimmy Johns Freaky Fast 300. That race is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2.