Photo: Logan T. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Strong Strategic Move Puts Elliott in Victory Lane at Charlotte

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

CONCORD, N.C. – With a masterpiece of strategy and modicum of good fortune, Chase Elliott won Saturday’s BetMGM 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start of the season.

Saving a set of new tries for the final run in the 200-lap event at the 1.5-mile track, Elliott grabbed the lead after a Lap 183 restart and held it the rest of the way.

Driving a No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with a paint scheme reminiscent of the signature look of the late Ricky Hendrick’s car, Elliott crossed the finish line 0.500 ahead of Brandon Jones, who recovered from early brake problems to finish second after pressing Elliott in the closing laps.

The victory was Elliott’s first at Charlotte and the sixth of his career. Jones finished ahead of two of his JR Motorsports teammates, Sammy Smith and Sam Mayer, in third and fourth, respectively.

Elliott started 30th after a lackluster qualifying effort. After Riley Herbst crashed hard on the backstretch to cause the first of eight cautions, Elliott, Jesse Love, Anthony Alfredo and Kyle Sieg stayed on the track on old tires, saving a set of stickers for later in the race.

That call by crew chief Greg Ives proved to be the winning move. Though Elliott pitted on Lap 48 and fell to 26th in the running order for a restart on Lap 53, he regained the lost track position on new tires and was a factor near the front the rest of the way. An opportune caution on Lap 169 gave Elliott the chance to make full use of his final set of new tires.

“Greg made a good call, and I think ultimately that’s what won us the race,” Elliott said. “I felt like I needed a little bit with my balance to make as much pace as the 7 (Justin Allgaier) and a couple of those guys.

“Hats off to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. Super special to win with the 17 on the car for the boss (Rick Hendrick) and (wife) Linda. It’s a great honor here with the Ricky Hendrick scheme. It means a lot to all of us to be a part of this whenever it runs.”

One by one, other contenders for the win fell by the wayside. Justin Allgaier won the first two stages in perhaps the fastest car in the race, but he sped on pit road during the Stage 2 break.

Allgaier’s race came to an end when he and pole winner Ty Gibbs crashed off Turn 4 after a restart on Lap 176. Reigning series champion Cole Custer and current Xfinity Series leader Austin Hill wrecked on the backstretch on Lap 184 after door-to-door contact a half-lap earlier.

A slow pit stop on Lap 170 cost Kyle Busch track position and relegated him to a sixth-place result behind fifth-place finisher AJ Allmendinger, who made a late-race charge on one-lap scuffed tires.

That left Jones to put the pressure on Elliott at the end, but the race ended before Jones could get closer than a half-second back.

“Talk about an up-and-down day and coming back from it,” said Jones, who had to replace brake fluid in his No. 9 Chevrolet during a long pit stop on Lap 76. “That was really fun to come from the back to the front, I think three or four times there.”

Ryan Sieg, Josh Williams, Gibbs and Noah Gragson completed the top 10. New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen was 15th in his first run on a 1.5-mile intermediate speedway.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – BetMGM 300

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Concord, North Carolina

Saturday, May 25, 2024

                1. (30)  Chase Elliott(i), Chevrolet, 200.

                2. (10)  Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 200.

                3. (16)  Sammy Smith, Chevrolet, 200.

                4. (13)  Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 200.

                5. (11)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 200.

                6. (2)  Kyle Busch(i), Chevrolet, 200.

                7. (21)  Ryan Sieg, Ford, 200.

                8. (36)  Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 200.

                9. (1)  Ty Gibbs(i), Toyota, 200.

                10. (18)  Noah Gragson(i), Ford, 200.

                11. (27)  Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 200.

                12. (15)  Taylor Gray(i), Toyota, 200.

                13. (24)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 200.

                14. (12)  Parker Retzlaff, Chevrolet, 200.

                15. (29)  Shane Van Gisbergen #, Chevrolet, 200.

                16. (17)  Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 200.

                17. (5)  Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 200.

                18. (3)  Chandler Smith, Toyota, 200.

                19. (34)  Kyle Sieg, Ford, 199.

                20. (32)  Hailie Deegan #, Ford, 199.

                21. (38)  JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, 199.

                22. (33)  Dawson Cram #, Chevrolet, 199.

                23. (25)  Leland Honeyman #, Chevrolet, 199.

                24. (20)  Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 199.

                25. (8)  Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 198.

                26. (14)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 198.

                27. (22)  Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, 198.

                28. (4)  Jesse Love #, Chevrolet, 198.

                29. (37)  Natalie Decker, Chevrolet, 196.

                30. (35)  Patrick Emerling, Chevrolet, 191.

                31. (23)  Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 190.

                32. (6)  Cole Custer, Ford, Accident, 184.

                33. (9)  Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, Accident, 176.

                34. (26)  Dean Thompson(i), Toyota, Fuel Pump, 137.

                35. (31)  Blaine Perkins, Ford, Suspension, 135.

                36. (7)  Sheldon Creed, Toyota, Oil Cooler, 119.

                37. (28)  Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, Accident, 71.

                38. (19)  Riley Herbst, Ford, Accident, 29.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  115.053 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 36 Mins, 27 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.500 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 45 laps.

Lead Changes:  23 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   T. Gibbs(i) 1-21;K. Busch(i) 22-32;J. Love # 33-36;T. Gibbs(i) 37-41;J. Allgaier 42-75;K. Busch(i) 76;S. Creed 77-85;K. Busch(i) 86;J. Allgaier 87-92;N. Gragson(i) 93-97;J. Love # 98-107;K. Busch(i) 108-120;S. Mayer 121;K. Busch(i) 122-124;S. Mayer 125;K. Busch(i) 126;S. Mayer 127-146;K. Busch(i) 147-150;K. Sieg 151-155;S. Mayer 156-170;T. Gibbs(i) 171;N. Gragson(i) 172-175;S. Mayer 176-182;C. Elliott(i) 183-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Sam Mayer 5 times for 44 laps; Justin Allgaier 2 times for 40 laps; Kyle Busch(i) 7 times for 34 laps; Ty Gibbs(i) 3 times for 27 laps; Chase Elliott(i) 1 time for 18 laps; Jesse Love # 2 times for 14 laps; Noah Gragson(i) 2 times for 9 laps; Sheldon Creed 1 time for 9 laps; Kyle Sieg 1 time for 5 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 7,20,33,9,16,8,21,81,39,00

Stage #2 Top Ten: 7,33,21,1,18,20,39,81,2,30

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