Dawsonville NASCAR driver Chase Elliott overcame a late pit road miscue to finish fifth in the Great Clips 300 benefitting Feed the Children, completing a banner night for JR Motorsports in which teammate Kevin Harvick won the race and all three team drivers finished in the top-10.
Between pole-sitter Elliott and Harvick, JR Motorsports led all 195 laps of the event with Elliott also extending his championship lead over his other teammate, Regan Smith, to 15 points with just eight races remaining on the season.
The pole was the first of the 18-year-olds career and Elliott wasted no time in building a two-second lead for most of the first stint of the race. Elliott led the first 36 laps but started to fight a loose handling race car as the run continued, losing the lead to Harvick on lap 37.
Green flag pit stops started shortly afterwards and crew chief Greg Ives brought Elliott down pit road on lap 51 for fuel, tires and to address the increasingly loose conditions of his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. Green flag pit stops cycled through a lap later and Elliott had lost a position from second to third.
The first caution did not drop until lap 119, for debris, but was extended until lap 133 due to a persistent light rainfall. Elliott restarted alongside Harvick for the restart but couldnt hang with his Sprint Cup mentor. A long green flag run and one final round of pit stops decided the race and decided the difference between a top-3 and a top-5 for the Hendrick Motorsports top prospect.
Elliott slid through his pit box on lap 178, dropping Elliott from third to sixth but he rallied to fifth, passing Smith in the closing laps to successfully extend his championship lead before the checkered flag waved on the race.
We started out good tonight and waited on (Harvick) to get there so I could learn a little bit from him in the race - mostly the line he was running, Elliott said. Once he got there, I was able to learn quite a bit, but we were really just free to begin the race and fought that issue most of the night.
I thought we got better and better as we went but I made an unacceptable mistake there at the end when I overshot my pit box on the last pit stop, costing us a few positions on the race track. My guys deserved a better night than what they got, so thats my bad. I will fix this before we get to Richmond next week.
Harvick won over fellow Sprint Cup Series rivals Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch with Elliott the only series regular to crack the top-5.
Next up for the Nationwide Series is the Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway. The event will air on ESPN at 7:30 p.m.