Chase Elliott breaks 39-race drought with Richmond victory

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 11: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway on September 11, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, VA – SEPTEMBER 11: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway on September 11, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. – Reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott was first off pit road under caution on Lap 218 of 250 and held the top spot the rest of the way in breaking a 39-race winless streak on Friday night at Richmond International Raceway.

Elliott’s victory in the Virginia529 College Savings 250 trimmed his deficit to 21 points behind series leader Chris Buescher, who finished 10th. Elliott’s first victory of the season was also the first in 24 races for an XFINITY Series regular at RIR.

“We always want to come and give our best shot and try to win,” Elliott said. “(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.”

Yes, Elliott won the event in the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet , leading a race-high 83 laps on the way to his first win at Richmond and the fourth of his career.

Perhaps, the loudest noise, however, came from late model stock car star and Dale Earnhardt Jr. protégé Josh Berry, who trumpeted his presence in his maiden XFINITY race at RIR with a seventh-place finish.

During an 81-lap green-flag run from Lap 54 through Lap 134, Berry drove from seventh to second. In the latter half of the run, Berry trimmed a five-second deficit to Scott, the leader, to 2.6 seconds before Jeremy Clements’ wreck in Turn 2 slowed the action for the fourth cation of the race.

Berry repeatedly lost positions on pit road, the last time because egress from his stall was blocked by the No. 6 Ford of Darrell Wallace Jr. He lost five positions under that sixth caution and restarted ninth on Lap 226 before recovering to finish seventh.

“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, who is auditioning for potential partners 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.

“I sure hope I helped (my cause) tonight. I’m just a short-track racer at heart, so tonight played into my favor.”

Polesitter Kyle Busch came home second, 1.308 seconds behind Elliott. Brian Scott led 63 laps and finished third, followed by Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Regan Smith and Berry.

“I wasn’t good enough all race long,” said Busch, who led 78 laps, including the first 49, before Scott took a long stint at the front. “I don’t know where the long-run speed went.”

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Virginia529 College Savings 250

Richmond International Raceway

Richmond, Virginia

Friday, September 11, 2015

1. (6) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 250, $54278.

2. (1) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 250, $40826.

3. (3) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 250, $33048.

4. (2) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 250, $24511.

5. (7) Erik Jones(i), Toyota, 250, $29478.

6. (4) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 250, $27258.

7. (5) Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 250, $26739.

8. (9) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 250, $26497.

9. (8) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 250, $20249.

10. (13) Chris Buescher, Ford, 250, $29072.

11. (16) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 250, $25946.

12. (10) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 250, $26870.

13. (14) Ryan Reed, Ford, 250, $25820.

14. (32) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Ford, 250, $25769.

15. (19) Ross Chastain #, Chevrolet, 250, $26318.

16. (11) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 249, $25642.

17. (17) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 249, $25567.

18. (21) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 248, $25516.

19. (20) Blake Koch, Toyota, 248, $25466.

20. (33) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 248, $25915.

21. (18) Dakoda Armstrong, Ford, 247, $25364.

22. (22) Cale Conley #, Toyota, 247, $25233.

23. (36) Harrison Rhodes #, Chevrolet, 247, $25147.

24. (12) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 246, $25005.

25. (34) Dylan Kwasniewski, Chevrolet, 245, $25105.

26. (25) Eric McClure, Toyota, 243, $24854.

27. (29) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 243, $24803.

28. (40) Josh Reaume #, Toyota, 242, $18652.

29. (39) Mike Harmon, Dodge, 236, $18602.

30. (28) John Wes Townley(i), Chevrolet, 234, $24800.

31. (15) Ryan Truex, Ford, Accident, 216, $24445.

32. (23) Hermie Sadler, Toyota, Electrical, 159, $24358.

33. (37) Matt Waltz, Chevrolet, Electrical, 135, $18293.

34. (27) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, Accident, 133, $24257.

35. (35) Ryan Ellis(i), Chevrolet, Vibration, 56, $18184.

36. (38) Carl Long, Dodge, Suspension, 38, $16431.

37. (26) David Starr, Toyota, Accident, 16, $21431.

38. (24) Benny Gordon, Toyota, Accident, 3, $14431.

39. (30) Jimmy Weller, Chevrolet, Accident, 2, $19431.

40. (31) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 2, $12431.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  90.072 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 04 Mins, 54 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.308 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 48 laps.

Lead Changes:  8 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Busch(i) 1-49; R. Ellis(i) 50-51; K. Busch(i) 52-53; B. Scott 54; K. Busch(i) 55-81; B. Scott 82-143; R. Smith 144-163; R. Chastain # 164-167; C. Elliott 168-250.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  C. Elliott 1 time for 83 laps; K. Busch(i) 3 times for 78 laps; B. Scott 2 times for 63 laps; R. Smith 1 time for 20 laps; R. Chastain # 1 time for 4 laps; R. Ellis(i) 1 time for 2 laps.

Top 10 in Points: C. Buescher – 908; C. Elliott – 887; T. Dillon – 881; R. Smith – 859; E. Sadler – 803; B. Scott – 797; D. Wallace Jr. # – 796; D. Suarez # – 791; B. Gaughan – 764; R. Reed – 683.

 

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