Chase Elliott Wins Daytona XFINITY Nailbiterby Kyle Pokrefky February 20, 2016
It appears that there’s just no stopping Chase Elliott’s Daytona Cinderella story as the 20-year-old out of Dawsonville, Ga. rolled into victory lane after winning Saturday’s PowerShares QQQ 300.
The youngest-ever pole sitter in Daytona 500 history claimed his fifth career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory in a nailbiter of a finish, locking fenders with Joey Logano from the start of the tri-oval to the finish line.
Elliott led 19 laps and the final 13 of the race, holding off charges from Logano and his JR Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler to seal the win by 43 thousandths of a second.
With his win, Elliott also became the youngest-ever winner at Daytona in the XFINITY Series.
“He was pushing me really hard and I couldn’t see where Elliott and the rest of everybody was, but I didn’t know that I had to watch,” Elliott said of the finish with Logano. “I felt like we got away from everybody by a few car lengths and I knew he was going to make some type of move – he faked me to the bottom and I wasn’t real sure, I kind of went down there a little bit and then I saw him go back to the top so I tried to follow him back up and I just didn’t get soon enough to get in front of his nose.
“He already had a nose there and I was already committed to coming up. We hit and I thought we were wrecked, which fortunately we didn’t, but I didn’t know if we were going to make it across the line and I didn’t know what was going to happen, but we got together and it stalled his momentum.
“Once I realized his momentum stopped, I tried to get away from him to keep him from pulling back any more.”
Logano, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford, attempted to make the top line work in the closing stages of the race and finally managed to receive a strong enough push from Kahne to get near the rear bumper of the No. 88 car.
Logano, the leader of the most laps of the race, also commented on the conclusion of the 120-lap event.
“The last lap I started getting up there and had a good run on the No. 88,” Logano noted. “Chase did a great job blocking to the top off of Turn 2 and at that point I wasn’t sure if Kasey was going to keep pushing me because that was his teammate, so I was like ‘I know Kasey’s not going with me any more at this point.’
“I felt like I was kind of on my own and I started pushing Chase out a little bit and I was going to make that pass late off of Turn 4.
“When I went to the top, obviously he was watching the mirror – I thought we were going to hit the wall and we didn’t.
“By time I got back up there, we made some contact and the contact is what killed me there – that killed my forward momentum.”
Kahne, Sadler and Austin Dillon completed the top-five of the running order as Darrell Wallace Jr., Brandon Jones, Daniel Suarez, Blake Koch and Brendan Gaughan followed in the top-10.
Sadler will be the points leader by three points over Wallace Jr. heading into next Saturday’s Head Up Georgia 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
In what was a reverse of XFINITY restrictor plate races trends of past years, the on-track calamities made their presence known early in the race and became virtually non-existent at the end of the event.
The first major accident of the race occurred on Lap 7 that sent drivers Bobby Gerhart and Ryan Preece behind the wall.
The largest crash of the day occurred on Lap 14 with Jeb Burton, Brandon Jones, Erik Jones, Bobby Labonte, Kyle Larson and Brennan Poole being involved in a multi-car incident on the backstretch.
The race winner also found himself involved in the wreck, yet emerged relatively unscathed compared to some of his on-track competitors.
Unofficial Results for the PowerShares QQQ 300
- 88 – Chase Elliott(i)
- 22 – Joey Logano(i)
- 5 – Kasey Kahne(i)
- 1 – Elliott Sadler
- 2 – Austin Dillon(i)
- 6 – Darrell Wallace Jr.
- 33 – Brandon Jones#
- 19 – Daniel Suarez
- 11 – Blake Koch
- 62 – Brendan Gaughan
- 98 – Aric Almirola(i)
- 7 – Justin Allgaier
- 3 – Ty Dillon
- 28 – Dakoda Armstrong
- 51 – Jeremy Clements (-1)
- 16 – Ryan Reed (-1)
- 05 – John Wes Townley(i) (-1)
- 44 – David Starr (-1)
- 87 – Joe Nemechek(i) (-1)
- 39 – Ryan Sieg (-1)
- 24 – Matt Tifft(i) (-1)
- 4 – Ross Chastain (-2)
- 18 – Bobby Labonte(i) (-2)
- 78 – B.J. McLeod# (-2)
- 43 – Jeb Burton (-2)
- 46 – Anthony Kumpen (-2)
- 48 – Brennan Poole# (-3)
- 25 – Chris Cockrum (-3)
- 93 – Scott Lagasse Jr. (-3)
- 0 – Eric McClure (-3)
- 20 – Erik Jones# (-5)
- 52 – Joey Gase (-6)
- 07 – Ray Black Jr.# (-6)
- 42 – Kyle Larson(i) (-9)
- 14 – Benny Gordon (Transmission)
- 89 – Morgan Shepherd (Rear Gear)
- 17 – Jeff Green (Transmission)
- 90 – Martin Roy (Accident)
- 85 – Bobby Gerhart (Accident)
- 01 – Ryan Preece# (Accident)
Top-10 in Drivers Standings after Round 1 of 33
- Elliott Sadler (38)
- Darrell Wallace Jr. (-3)
- Brandon Jones# (-4)
- Daniel Suarez (-5)
- Blake Koch (-6)
- Brendan Gaughan (-6)
- Justin Allgaier (-9)
- Ty Dillon (-9)
- Dakoda Armstrong (-11)
- Jeremy Clements (-12)
# = Rookie, (i) = Ineligible for NASCAR XFINITY Series points.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images