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Chase Elliott Uses Tire Advantage to Score Xfinity Win at Charlotte

Photo Credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

If Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway is any indication, Hendrick Motorsports is in for a great weekend.

Making his only scheduled start of the year in the second-tier series, Elliott took advantage of a sequence of strategy calls in the final laps of the race that left the No. 17 Chevrolet with a fresh set of sticker tires, when many others didn’t have one available.

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion caught a lucky break with a late-race caution, strapping his final set of Goodyear tires on with 30 laps remaining, while the rest of the field was stuck with scuffs.

Elliott, a native of Dawsonville, Georgia, made the pass for the victory with 18 laps remaining, getting around second-half dominator Sam Mayer on a late-race restart, taking advantage of those fresh tires.

“Yeah, they did a really good job. Greg [Ives] made a good call and ultimately I think that’s what won us the race,” Elliott said post-race. “I felt like I needed a little bit with my balance and make as much pace as [Allgaier] and a couple of those guys, but hats off to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports.”

It’s the second win this season for the No. 17 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series after Kyle Larson pulled off the victory at Circuit of The Americas earlier this season.

“Super special to win with the No. 17 on the car for the boss and Linda [Hendrick] and obviously, a great honor here with the Ricky Hendrick scheme, it means a lot to all of us that get to be a part of this whenever it runs, and I just appreciate the boss for letting me do it.”

With many restarts unfolding in the closing stages of Saturday’s 200-lap contest, the field would get jumbled up quite a bit from its original form, as those mired in the back of the pack with new tires – Sammy Smith, AJ Allmendinger, and Shane Van Gisbergen – made their way to the front.

Despite the 12-lap advantage on tires, Brandon Jones was keeping Elliott honest, and in the final laps of the event, began running the Hendrick Motorsports entry down quickly, getting within a half-second before his progress leveled out.

Jones, driving the No. 9 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, recorded a second-place result, picking up his first top-five result in the NASCAR Xfinity Series since Kansas last Fall.

Sammy Smith was able to surge towards the front of the pack with brand-new Goodyear tires, finishing third, his first top-five result with JR Motorsports.

Leading 44 of 200 laps, Sam Mayer came home in fourth, continuing a quietly incredible run of finishes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, with five top-fives in the last six races.

Rounding out the top five, finishing fifth, was AJ Allmendinger, after the driver of the No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro had early-race contact with Riley Herbst, and later on in the race, had a flat right-rear tire after slapping the wall.

In his return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Kyle Busch came home in sixth place, driving a third entry for Richard Childress Racing. Ryan Sieg was seventh, Josh Williams eighth, and Ty Gibbs in ninth.

Rounding out the top-10 was NASCAR Cup Series regular Noah Gragson, who piloted an Xfinity Series entry for Rette Jones Racing, finishing 10th.

Justin Allgaier, the winner last time out at Darlington Raceway, looked to have a stellar Chevrolet Camaro, when he was involved in a late-race crash with Ty Gibbs and Chase Elliott, destroying the JR Motorsports entry.

Allgaier led 40 laps, but would finish 33rd.

Leaving Charlotte, Austin Hill continues to hold the lead in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings by four markers over Chandler Smith, who moves into second by Cole Custer.

Justin Allgaier and Jesse Love complete the top five.

Next, the NASCAR Xfinity Series begins its West Coast Road Course swing, first with a race at Portland International Speedway next weekend, and then a trip to Sonoma Raceway.

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