Elliott, Mitchell claim Chicagoland victories
JOLIET – Only two Sprint Cup drivers were at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday night for the NASCAR Nationwide EnjoyIllinois300.com.
But Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne joined some of the best Nationwide regulars to put on quite a show.
On a night filled with line changes and lead changes, Chase Elliott, who contended all night, regained the lead after the final round of pit stops and led for the final 20 laps to earn a visit to Victory Lane.
The victory made him eligible for next week’s Dash 4 Cash at Indianapolis. Meanwhile, pole-sitter Brian Scott, who finished sixth, earned the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash Bonus. Next weeks’ qualifiers for the Dash, in addition to Elliott and Scott, are Trevor Bayne and Ty Dillon.
“We made some great adjustments overnight,” Elliott said. “We had speed sometime in practice, and sometime we didn’t.
“This was a great night for us at Chicago. Racing against Kyle (Larson) and (Ryan) Blaney, we had an awesome race going.”
Bayne, with a strong late run, finished second. Larson claimed third, Kahne fourth and Dillon fifth.
“We struggled through the first part of the race,” Bayne said. “We made a really good adjustment under caution that last pit stop. I’m really proud of our team. We’ve struggled a lot over the summer. The guys on our team have been working so hard and not getting the results they deserved.”
Larson and Kane put on a strong finishing show, jockeying for the third and fourth spots in the stretch run.
“We had a really, really good long-run car, but every time we stopped we came out tight,” Larson said. “I had fun, it’s just frustrating because I thought we had a car to win. It seemed like every time we got to the lead, we had to pit right away.”
Elliott, who won back-to-back this year at Texas and Darlington, takes over the series points lead. He started the night 13 points behind Regan Smith, while Elliott Sadler was eight points back.
Nationwide points leader Regan Smith continued to struggle at Chicagoland. He came to town hoping to stay in the running for a $1 million bonus. Instead, he struggled with his car and finished 16th. He still has not finished better than 13th here.
ARCA Ansell ActivArmr 150
Mason Mitchell certainly seemed overdue to capture a title in the ARCA Racing Series after experiencing so many close calls the past two seasons.
On Saturday in the Ansell ActivArmr 150 at Chicagoland Speedway, things finally clicked for the 20-year old from West Des Moines, Iowa, as he won for the first time in 35 races.
Mitchell, the only driver to finish in the top 10 in all 11 races, saw that streak extend to 20 in a row. He passed runner-up Justin Boston with six laps left after a caution.
This also was Mitchell’s series-best seventh top-5 effort, which includes four second-place finishes. In addition, he had a pair of runner-up efforts a year ago.
As a result of his title win, Mitchell overcame the 10-point deficit that he faced coming in to move into first-place in the points battle over Grant Enfinger, who took seventh place.
“This is unreal,” Mitchell said. “I knew that we could do it since the whole year at every track we’ve been to we’ve been pretty fast. We actually struggled yesterday, and in qualifying today, and for the majority of the race we really weren’t that good.
“We never gave up and made some really good adjustments throughout the whole race and were there at the end. It’s been such a work in progress, and we’ve been so close so many times and leading laps and dominating races and not being able to get that win.
“We heard a lot of negativity, but finally today we proved them wrong and got into Victory Lane. The momentum is on our side and I don’t plan to look back. This is so cool, especially since it was so close to home and I had a good amount of friends and family here today.”
This was the 14th ARCA race at the speedway and the streak continues without a two-time winner. The highest-finishing former winner was 2003 victor Frank Kimmel, who settled for 10th place in this race.
Boston claimed his third straight top-five finish but fell short of adding to his lone victory earlier this season at Toledo.
The top rookie in the field was Matt Tifft, who entered the day ranked 19th in points as he competed on a mile-and-a-half track for the initial time. This was his third top-five finish of the season, with the others also being thirds.