Dawsonville NASCAR driver Chase Elliott continued his incredible run of success as a rookie in the Nationwide Series on Friday night, finishing second to JR Motorsports teammate Kevin Harvick in the rain-delayed ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia.
Elliott extended his series championship lead to 19 points over his other JR Motorsports teammate, Regan Smith.
Despite qualifying fourth, Elliott was unhappy with his car during the first quarter of the race, prompting crew chief Greg Ives to throw a variety of changes at the NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. Between the adjustments and altering track conditions (the moisture in the air subsided approaching the midnight hours), the car continually improved, maintaining second place for a majority of the race.
Elliott had closed to within half a second of Harvicks lead with 10 laps to go and in heavy lap traffic but could get no closer, finishing 2.068 seconds behind his Sprint Cup Series adviser.
I think he just outdrove me a little bit, honestly Elliott said. Some of it was me. I kind of let him get too far out in front of me.
Elliott earned praise from Harvick after the 18-year-old outdueled the veteran last month at Texas Motor Speedway when the now Nationwide Series championship leader scored his first career victory on the tour. But on Friday night, the veteran showed the newcomer some tricks while also conceding that Elliott pushes Harvick to continually work on his own craft as well.
Honestly, Chase is a good kid, and he knows how to drive a race car, Harvick said. He pushes us to be better by trying different things (from what we used to) through the years . . .
Hes as good as they get and a lot of fun to be around.
Harvick was the guy to beat on Friday night, leading 202 of the 250 laps, leading JR Motorsports to their first one-two finish in team history. The win is JR Motorsports fourth in the series first eight races -- matching its previous record for an entire season set in 2009.
Im not used to having things this good on the ownership side, Dale Earnhardt Jr. told Jim Utter at the Charlotte Observer. And, Im not used to being in the hunt for winning races week-in and week-out.
Outside of a 15th place finish in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, Elliott has not finished outside of the top-10 all season. He has an average finish of 6.0 and has completed every lap contested in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season.
Publisher/editor Kimberly Boim contributed to this report.