Chase Elliott thrust himself back into contention for NASCAR’s Xfinity Series championship Saturday, winning the Virginia529 250 at Richmond International Raceway.
Elliott, who finished 24th at Darlington last week, jumped from third place in the standings to second, and closed to within 21 points of points leader Chris Buescher with the victory. Buescher finished 10th.
Elliott held off Kyle Busch for the victory. Brian Scott, who led 63 laps, finished third and Joey Logano was fourth. Ty Dillon, who finished eighth, dropped to third in the standings behind Buescher and Elliott.
Busch led 78 laps, but he didn’t have the speed to keep up with Elliott’s Chevy.
Elliott took control on Lap 168, then maintained that lead after a restart on Lap 217 when Ryan Truex crashed. Elliott then held off Busch the rest of the way.
Three who mattered
Chase Elliott: Had not won since Chicago in 2014 – 39 races ago. He’s firmly back in the picture to hang on to a championship that he also won in 2014.
Kyle Busch: Couldn’t run down Elliott late in the race, but he finished in the top five for a seventh consecutive time.
Chris Buescher: Points leader finished 10th and saw his lead over Elliott shrink to 21 points. He led Dillon by 29 points after last week’s race at Darlington, S.C.
▪ Elliott’s victory was the 400th all-time for Chevrolet in the series.
▪ Josh Berry, making his first series start of the year (and third of his career) for JR Motorsports, finished seventh. He was in the top five late in the race, but struggled on pit road to fall out of contention and finish seventh. Berry hopes to find a full-time ride for 2016. Berry doesn’t have any other series races scheduled this year.
▪ Sprint Cup regulars had won the Xfinity race at Richmond 22 consecutive times until Elliott’s victory.
They said it
“We’re going to be aggressive, go for wins and whatever happens, happens.” – Ernie Cope, Elliott’s crew chief.
Jimmy John’s 300
Where: Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill.
When: 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 19.
TV: NBC Sports Network.
Radio: Motor Racing Network.