Chase Elliott, the 18-year-old high school senior and son of NASCAR great Bill Elliott, needed just six starts in the Nationwide Series for his first career win as he captured Fridayevening's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Elliott (No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet) made a bold move on the high side of Kevin Harvick (No. 5 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet) in the elbow of the front stretch to take the lead on Lap 185 and then held on for a 2.251-second victory over Kyle Busch (No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota) in the 200-lap event. Elliott became the second-youngest winner in series history at 18 years, 4 months and 8 days.
"It was just a phenomenal night," Elliott said. "It's an honor to race with these (Sprint Cup) guys. Passing Harvick for the lead and holding off Kyle at the end was really cool."
Elliott led an impressive performance by JR Motorsports as the organization placed all four entries among the top seven. Harvick finished fourth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Ragu Chevrolet) was fifth and Regan Smith (No. 7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet) was seventh. With Larson finishing third, Chevrolet took five of the top seven finishing positions.
Harvick, the polesitter, was dominant in the early going, leading the first 87 laps, while Busch made a tremendous charge from the rear of the 40-car field. Busch, set to start 36th after not posting a qualifying lap, was forced to start last after missing driver introductions. He charged from 40th to third in just 29 laps and finally overtook Harvick for the lead on Lap 88.
Meanwhile, Elliott hung around the top five all evening and showed he may contend with Harvick and Busch when he took the lead from Busch on Lap 135 and held the point for 20 laps. But then it was Earnhardt Jr. who showed some muscle as he wrestled the lead and held it for 15 laps.
A final caution from Laps 170-177 for an accident involving Jamie Dick and rookie Chris Buescher actually set the stage for Harvick. An outstanding pit stop by Harvick's crew in the first pit box allowed him to move from fourth to first when they restarted on Lap 178. Despite leading a race-high 101 laps, Harvick said his car was continually getting tight late in the race and eventually couldn't hold off a charging Elliott.
Elliott grabbed the lead on Lap 185 and led for the final 16 to secure the victory. The win also gave Elliott the Nationwide Series championship lead by two points over Smith.