Chase Elliott didn’t have a particularly good Friday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet during practice for the Nationwide Series race Saturday.
“Our car had speed at times; we just weren’t as good the whole time as I wanted to be,” he said.
The 18-year-old has a pretty slick crew chief in Greg Ives.
“We made some really good adjustments overnight,” Elliott said. “I can’t thank Greg and everybody enough.”
He showed his appreciation during the race, which he led for 85 laps en route to capturing his third win of the season and vaulting past Regan Smith and Elliott Sadler into the Nationwide points lead.
Pole-sitter Brian Scott led through the first 21 laps before Elliott took over and dominated for the next 40. Elliott was eight seconds ahead of the field when Richard Harriman sideswiped the wall and brought out a yellow flag.
Elliott wasn’t the same on the restart, falling back to third as Ryan Blaney shot into the lead and brought Scott with him. Just past the halfway point, Blaney was engaged in a wild side-by-side battle with Kyle Larson. The duo swapped the top spot twice during one lap.
Elliott got himself back in contention after a restart on the 127th lap. He stalked Larson for several laps before getting a run on the bottom on Lap 142 as Larson bobbled badly up toward the wall. Before Larson was able to bring his car back under control, Elliott had nearly a one-second lead.
But Larson wasn’t done. He reeled in Elliott and reclaimed the top spot on Lap 158. During the final pit-stop sequences, Trevor Bayne led for several laps. But at the end of the cycle, Elliott was back in front, leading Bayne by more than four seconds and Larson by more than seven.
Over the last 20 laps, Bayne was able to slowly close the gap, only to run out of time. At the finish, the margin was 1.773 seconds. Larson held on for third ahead of Kasey Kahne, Ty Dillon, Scott, Erik Jones, Chris Buescher, Blaney and Sadler.
Scott, meanwhile, earned $100,000 in the second leg of the Nationwide Series “Dash 4 Cash” competition as the highest finisher among a foursome of qualifiers that included Buescher, Sadler and Smith.