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NASCAR: Quick pit stops push Elliott into fifth place finish at Kansas Speedway
F-Chase Elliott pic 1.jpg
Chase Elliott is set to get back on the race track after missing six races due to an injury. He will be racing this weekend at Martinsville. - photo by Jessica Taylor

Dawsonville native Chase Elliott finished in fifth place in the Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, May 2. 

“We were solid,” Elliott said after the race. “We weren’t anything stellar, but definitely a step in the right direction from where we’ve been over the last three or four weeks.”

Elliott started the race in 17th place and moved into the top 10 before the competition caution flag on lap 26. A quick pit stop hopped Elliott into eighth place once racing resumed. 

Continuing to push the pace, Elliott moved into sixth place before the end of stage one. The pit stop at the end of the stage saw Elliott hop forward once again to start stage two in fifth place. 

Elliott complained that his car was too loose and on his green flag pit stop during stage two, his team fixed any issues. After briefly leaving the top five, Elliott gained his fifth place spot back on lap 100 and stayed in fifth until the end of the stage. 

“You just try to make the best choice that you have available at the time and hope it goes your way,” Elliott said. “Proud of the effort and hopefully we can just keep this momentum going forward.”

The race went three-lanes wide as opposed to the normal to lane racing and Elliott got caught behind it and was shuffled back to 13th place. An incredibly timed green flag pit stop worked to Elliott’s advantage when the caution flag came out after his stop. 

Elliott jumped all the way to sixth place under caution. Elliott lost momentum and began slipping, but another caution flag possibly saved Elliott’s day. He received four fresh tires on pit road and restarted in 10th place with 22 laps to go. 

The new tires paid off for Elliott, who surged back into sixth place off of a string of cautions. In the final two laps, Elliott returned to the top five and finished the race in fifth place. 

“I felt like that was the right move,” Elliott said. “I know it didn’t win the race, but I felt like that was the thing to do. Those restarts just get so wild and it’s really hard to predict what lane is going to do what.”

Ironically, Kyle Busch won the Buschy McBusch Race 400, becoming the tenth individual driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race this season. 

As far as regular season standings go, Elliott sits in seventh place based off of points. Elliott is in 12th place in playoff points, behind all 10 winners and current 2021 points leader Denny Hamlin. The top 16 advance to the playoffs. 

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to the Darlington Raceway on Sunday, May 9, for a Mother’s Day race. The Goodyear 400 will start at 3:30 p.m.