Chase Elliott rolls to another dramatic NNS victory

Chase Elliott celebrates his second Nationwide Series win in a row with a spectacular burnout at Darlington Raceway.

Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

Young rookie sensation Chase Elliott turned a lot of heads last week when he won his first NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. Friday night at Darlington Raceway, the 18-year-old high school senior proved the win was no fluke.

Overcoming two slow pit stops and a late-race restart, Elliott came from sixth to first in the final two laps to score back-to-back Nationwide Series wins. The victory came in his first race at Darlington, known as the track ‘Too Tough to Tame.’

"This is unbelievable. I couldn’t believe last week, much less here at Darlington," Elliott said in victory lane. "The truly is a dream come true. This is a place I always loved watching races. It was probably my favorite place to watch a race as a fan for a long, long time. Just to come and be a part of this race is unbelievable, but to come and win this thing that’s a deal I’ll never forget."

With veteran Kyle Busch out front, Elliott went to work making his way back to the front through slower traffic. Chasing down the race leader as the laps clicked away, the caution flew with just five laps to go, bringing the field to pit road for one last time.

Another slow stop dropped Elliott from second to sixth on the restart, with Elliott Sadler and Kyle Larson out front after only taking two tires. Not wasting any time, Elliott wasted no time getting back to the front when the green flag flew with two laps to go.

Weaving through the likes of Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, Elliott made the clean pass on Sadler on the final lap to take his second checkered flag in only seven starts.

"Holy cow," Elliott said. "Man, that last restart was crazy. I didn’t really know what to expect starting sixth. I knew those guys on two tires were going to be a little slower than the guys on four (tires), but it happened our way. Elliott got a little loose off (Turn) 2 and I was able to get to the outside and that was where I wanted to be anyway."

For Sadler, the gamble on two tires nearly paid off as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver went from running in the top 10 much of the night to battling for the lead in the final laps.

"I’ve finished second here so many times I really wanted to win here," Sadler said. "My guys really deserved it. Great pits stops. Great call by Chris (Gayle, crew chief). They deserved to win tonight. I let them down. I just got a little too loose and had to get out of it. We’ll take second, but I want to win bad here at Darlington."

Busch led the most laps of any driver in the field with 65 laps at the front of the field, and looked to be on his way to a third-straight Darlington victory when the caution flew.  

"It’s a little disheartening that caution came out," Busch said. "Hopefully we were going to win. I don’t know if I could have held him off, maybe. To finish fourth after a restart and taking four tires, it just kind of sucks."

While Elliott’s No. 9 came to life in the closing laps, the handling on Larson’s car went away. Taking two tires on the final stop of the night, the No. 42 gambled on the call and had to settle for sixth at the end of the night.

"We took two (tires) there — I always wanted to take two on a late restart. We got the opportunity there," the Fontana winner said. "I think up the right side of my car too bad there tonight and got it too tight. I couldn’t really go hard there at the end. Elliott (Sadler) did a pretty good job there at the end on two (tires). Once again, congrats to Chase. That’s awesome. I’m glad to see him get two in a row. Now I’m going to have to go get some."

Once again, Elliott’s dramatic win was a popular one among his competitors, many of whom took to Twitter to congratulate the son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott.