After winning the pole and Stage 1 of the 1st Race of the NASCAR Round of 8 held on Oct. 18 at the Kansas Speedway, Dawsonville Driver Chase Elliott finished in sixth place.
Driver Joey Logano won the race, automatically giving him a bid in the Nov. 8 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Harvick led the most laps of the race, 85, and Elliott led the second most, 48.
Elliott’s sixth place finish and 16 stage points closed the gap between Elliott and Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski, who are all ahead of him in point standings, but Logano’s victory pushed Elliott into fifth place in the overall standings. This is only the first of three Round of 8 races, so Elliott will need to continue to race well in his next two races to qualify for the Cup Series Championship.
Technical issues caused miscommunications with Elliott and the Number 9 team all race, due to faulty earbuds in Elliott’s helmet.
The Number 9 pit crew even tried giving Elliott new earbuds on a pit stop but instead of trying to replace his earbuds in his helmet midrace, Elliott replugged the old earbuds back in. It was a temporary fix and the drama peaked when Gufstafson shouted for Elliott not to pit on a caution, but Elliott could not hear him and went anyway.
Elliott held the lead at the beginning of the race until the competition caution after lap 25. Harvick passed Elliott on lap 32 but Elliott raced next to him until he was able to complete a pass on lap 64 and keep it until the end of Stage 1, earning Elliott one extra playoff point.
Hamlin started Stage 2 on the outside lane and cleared Elliott on lap 88 for the lead. Ryan Blaney passed Elliott only two laps later. Elliott, Hamlin and Blaney all went to pit road on lap 126.
A caution flag on lap 145 caused the restart that pushed Elliott to fifth place with just 12 laps to go. Keselowski passed Elliott for fifth place with 6 laps left in Stage 2 but Elliott reclaimed fifth from Keselowski on the final turn of Stage 2.
Elliott’s bad restart on the final stage saw him as low as 12th place, but Elliott found his speed once again and was back up to 9th place before another caution flag at lap 199 out of 267.
By lap 228, Elliott passed four drivers, moving back into 5th place. Elliott temporarily lost fifth but regained it from Ryan Blaney two laps later.
However, Kyle Busch passed Elliott with two laps left in the race. Elliott stayed in sixth until the end of the race.
The second of three Round-of-eight races will be held Sunday, Oct. 25, at the Texas Motor Speedway. The Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 will start at 3:30 p.m.