Chase Elliott won the Virginia529 College Savings 250 on Friday night at Richmond International Raceway, snapping a 39-race non-winning streak for the NAPA Chevrolet Camaro team of JR Motorsports.
Elliott, the defending series champion, earned his first win of 2015 by outdistancing himself from a strong Kyle Busch after a late race restart with 25 laps to go. Busch tried to pressure the 19-year-old Elliott into making a mistake, but the Dawsonville, Ga. driver stayed competitive, building up a 1.308-second lead sustaining it the rest of the way to see the checkers.
The win was a big incentive in strengthening his chances in the NASCAR Xfinity championship and shaved his deficit to now 21 points, taking over second place from Ty Dillon, who finished eighth, and trails leader Chris Buescher, the 10th place finisher in the race, by 27 points
“I don’t think we changed a lot in how we ran the race,” Elliott said in winning his fourth race of his career. “We always want to come and give our best shot and try to win. [Crew chief] Ernie [Cope] brought a great car, and the pit stops were phenomenal. I’m just super excited to be back in Victory Lane.”
Polesitter Kyle Busch came home second, disappointed by the way his race progressed throughout the night.
“I wasn’t good enough all race long,” said Busch, who led 78 laps, including the first 49 laps. “I don’t know where the long-run speed went.”
Rounding out the top five were Elliott, Kyle Busch, Brian Scott, Joey Logano, and Erik Jones.
The big surprise of the race was seventh place finisher, Josh Berry, in only his third Xfinity start driving the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. He charged from seventh to fourth early in the race and was running in fourth until his last pit stop’s exit was blocked by Darrell Wallace causing him to lose six positions on pit road.
“I need to do better on restarts, I need to do better on pit road, and I think we would have had a real shot at winning that race,” said Berry, the 2015 track champion at Hickory Motor Speedway in hopes of running a full Xfinity Series schedule for JR Motorsports next year. “I’m just so proud of this team. They brought a great car tonight.”
The average speed of the race was 90.072 mph after six caution flags for 48 laps. There were six lead changes among eight drivers with Chase Elliott earning the bonus point for leading the most at 83 laps.
The next NASCAR Xfinity event is the Furious 7 300 at the Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, September 19 at 5:30 p.m. EDT on NBCSN.