Chase Elliott surges late for third runner-up result in Michigan

Nigel Kinrade/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Chase Elliott ended his third race at Michigan International Speedway in the same manner as the other two – with a second-place result.

Unlike the first two efforts, the Georgian’s third runner-up result came with a sigh of relief.

Elliott spend much of Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 mired back in traffic, running in the back-half of the top 10 with a car that was too tight in traffic to pass his opponent. When the race’s final stage began, the 21-year-old sat eighth.

However, over the final stage the Dawsonville, Georgia native began to work his way up through the field. Elliott crept into the top five for the first time shortly before the field began the day’s final 50 laps.

Sitting just behind the leaders, Elliott was in position to contend for a victory should anything wild happen at the end of the race.

Then, caution flags started flying.

Three separate yellow flags slowed the field over the last 20 laps. Elliott took advantage of the ensuing restarts to elevate himself into contention, rising to second and challenging Kyle Larson for the lead on the final restart.

Elliott ultimately fell short of dispatching Larson, ending his weekend in second to keep his 2.0 average finish at Michigan alive.

Afterwards, the Georgian reflected on his race, and a pass he regretted allowing.

“I gave up a spot to the No. 42 (Larson) on that green flag run before those handful of cautions,” Elliott said. “You hate giving up those spots. I raced him as hard as I could to try to keep him behind me, because I knew there were too many laps to try to run green to the end. That spot could be the potential spot that keeps you in position to win.”

While he was once again, Elliott’s typical frustration was replaced with a feeling of contentment and pride in his team after a difficult weekend.

“I’m really proud of our NAPA team,” Elliott said. “We really struggled Friday and Saturday. I felt like we overachieved today from what we thought we were going to have coming into the race. Those are the kind of things that you have to have, whether you have a really fast car or a mediocre car.

“Our pit stops were just incredible, which was a huge help,” Elliott continued. “I can’t express how huge that was, to come in and gain two-or-three spots. Unreal.

“Hopefully we can keep some of that moving forward and give ourselves a chance to win. That’s all you can ask for.”

The run was Elliott’s 14th-career top five, elevating the 21-year-old to fifth in the championship standings.

His pursuit of a first-career win continues on to Sonoma Raceway.

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