Racing: Elliott wins Xfinity race

Published 7:13 am Sunday, May 26, 2024


By STEVE REED AP Sports Writer

 CONCORD, N.C. — Chase Elliott proved he still knows how to win an Xfinity Series race.

Running on fresh tires, Elliott held off Brandon Jones on Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway to win his first race on the NASCAR’s lower circuit since 2016 and his sixth overall. It was a rare cameo for Elliott, who has only run four Xfinity races in the past five years.

“It was super special to win with the 17 on the car for the boss and Linda,” Elliott said of team owner Rick Hendrick. “It means a lot to all of us to be a part of it whenever this car runs, and I appreciate the boss for letting me do it. I’m glad to get him a win. It was a good day.”

It also gives Elliott some track knowledge heading into the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, the longest race on the Cup Series schedule.

Elliott became the 12th different Xfinity winner at Charlotte in the last 12 years.

A call to take on new tires with about 50 laps remaining helped Elliott win the race on a hot, slick track.

“We were in a much better tire situation than anybody else and that is what won us the race,” Elliott said. “We ran ourselves a smart race and that put us in position.”

He started in 30th place after a rough day in qualifying on Friday night, but battled his way back through the field.

Jones had car problems all day but continued to battle and finished second. Sammy Smith was third and Sam Mayer was fourth after it looked as though he might have a great shot to win late before falling off the pace.

“Talk about an up-and-down day,” Jones said. “That was really fun to come from the back to the front a few times.”

Justin Allgaier won the first two stages of the race to give him a series-high eight on the season, but his chance to defend his title at Charlotte ended when his No. 7 Chevrolet hit the wall with 25 laps to go continuing his up-and-down season.

Allgaier had been looking for his second straight win on the Xfinity Series after winning two weeks ago at Darlington.

Mayer seemed in control late in the race and was leading when Cole Custer and Austin Hill were involved in a crash with 17 laps remaining. But Elliott pulled away on the restart and Mayer quickly faded back and had a tight brush with the outside wall before regaining some track position and finishing in the top five.