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NASCAR: Pit road miscue keeps Elliott from win; finishes in fourth at Richmond
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, and William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at Richmond Raceway on September 11, 2021 in Richmond, Virginia. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Dawsonville native Chase Elliott led a total of 58 laps and overcame adversity to finish fourth at Richmond Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 11. 

"I’m super proud of our effort,” Elliott said at the end of the race. “Our entire Kelley Blue Book team did a great job preparing for this week and then coming and executing a really fast car. I’m really proud of that.”

Elliott started 13th at Richmond Raceway for the second race in the NASCAR playoffs Round of 16 and was quick to enter the top-10, sitting ninth on lap 22. At the competition caution on lap 30, Elliott was scored eighth and visited pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. Eliott gained two positions after a quick pit stop, restarting Elliott in sixth.

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion gained two more spots and was up to fourth before another caution flag waved on lap 41. Crew chief Alan Gustafson elected to keep the Dawsonville, Georgia, native on track, restarting him in the same position. Elliott was able to continue his charge to the front and finished stage one in second. 

During the stage break, Elliott came to pit road, but held onto the second spot for the ensuing lap-89 restart. Elliott had a strong restart and took over the lead on lap 91. He made a scheduled pit stop on lap 133 that placed him second after the stops cycled through. Elliott’s No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet came to life during the long run, and re-took the lead on lap 163. 

He made his second green-flag stop of stage two on lap 181 but a pit road mishap resulted in an extended pit stop. The 25-year-old driver was relegated to 15th and fell one lap down. After fighting back, Elliott was able to set himself up to receive the free pass at the conclusion of stage two. 

“I hate our incident on pit road happened,” Elliott said. “I don’t know what I would have done any different. I guess let him go is a safe thing, but it’s so close and always hard to tell kind of when they’re going to get done on the left side. I hate that. I thought I was long in the box and backed up out of a precautionary measure, but yeah, I hate that.”

Between stages, Elliott returned to the lead lap, by virtue of the free pass. He restarted 12th for the third and final segment of the night. Elliott quickly charged back inside the top-10 on lap 263. 

The driver made another scheduled green flag pit stop and returned to competition in ninth. Elliott continued to surge back to the front and was running in fifth on lap 312. Another pit stop on lap 346 allowed him to reset for the final stretch of the race in fifth. He picked up one more spot before taking the checkered flag in fourth.

The fourth-place finish is Elliott’s fourth top-five result at the .75-mile track. Elliott is currently seventh in the playoff standings, 19 points above the cutline, as the Series heads to the final race in the round of 16 

The last race of the Round of 16 is Saturday, Sept. 18. The Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m.