Photos: Courtesy of NASCAR
Chase Elliott, behind the wheel of the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, won the Powershares QQQ 300 NASCAR Xfinity race in an epic battle to the finish against Joey Logano on Saturday afternoon at the Daytona International Speedway.
As the pair approached the finish line for the checkers, Logano mounted a charge on the outside as his only hope to catch Elliott. It was all that the leader, Elliott could do trying to keep an eye on both lanes behind him in the tri-oval. He went low and then faded high for the block making brief contact with Logano not once, but twice caving in Elliott’s right rear quarter panel but despite all the hard rubbing, Elliott cleared winning the race.
“I knew he was going to make some type of move,” said Elliott after his fifth NASCAR Xfinity win of his career and first at Daytona. “He (Logano) faked me to the bottom. I wasn’t sure; so I went down there a little bit and saw him go back to the top. I tried to follow him back up there and didn’t get up soon enough to get in front of his nose. I was kind of already committed to coming up.
“We hit. I thought we were wrecked, which fortunately we didn’t. I didn’t know if we were going to make it across the line or what was going to happen. Once I realized his momentum had stopped, I tried to get away from him to keep the draft from pulling me back anymore. Just fortunate and got lucky with how it all worked out. He did a good job setting me up. He was just a tick too far behind to get up front.”
Elliott’s car owner Dale Jr. was mightily impressed with the 20-year old driver’s performance seeing the future unfold right before his eyes.
“Chase obviously did what he had to do there at the end of the race,” said a pleased Earnhardt. “I thought that was very gutsy to be able to really put such an aggressive block on the 22. He did what he had to do to keep the guy behind him, and it won him the race.
“I’m proud of Chase. It’s such a cool thing to be a part of his career. He’s going to do some amazing stuff in his career, and it’s awesome to be a little part of it.”
Third place went to Kasey Kahne, Xfinity regular, Elliott Sadler in fourth and Austin Dillon was fifth.
Runner up, Logano pushed Elliott on the white flag lap out to a bigger lead hoping to set him up for the pass on the front stretch had to accept defeat gracefully, but was still shaking his head in what he has to do to get back to the winner’s circle.
“It’s three races and three seconds,” said Logano, after finishing runner-up to Denny Hamlin in the Sprint Unlimited on Thursday and to Dale Earnhardt in his Can-Am 150 Duel on Thursday. “I guess it’s nothing to hold your head down about, but, gosh, when you see the lead that many times and are that close to winning and don’t pull it off, it’s frustrating,”
Elliott barely survived a scare early in the race after a pushing incident early on lap 13 tapping the bumper of Bobby Labonte sending him to the outside hitting Xfinity championship contender and last year’s Truck champion, Erik Jones, both of Joe Gibbs Racing, knocking them out of the race.
The PowerShares QQQ 300 average speed was 151.176 mph after four caution flags for 17 laps. There were 19 lead changes among nine drivers with Kasey Kahne leading the most for three times for 40 laps.
The NASCAR Xfinity series now moves on to the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Heads Up Georgia 250 next Saturday on February 27, airing on FOX Sports 1 at 1:30 p.m. EST.