Chase Elliott wins Alpha Energy 250 NASCAR Trucks at Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WSET/Martinsville Speedway) - This time, Chase Elliott got to play a bit of defense in the closing laps - and he did it well.
Just six months after finishing runner-up despite leading 109 laps, the 21-year-old from Dawsonville, Georgia took advantage of Christopher Bell’s misfortune and took off on a late restart to win the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
The win was Elliott’s first at the legendary short track, and his second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory. On Saturday, Elliott won Stage 1 and led 92 laps en route to taking home his own renowned grandfather clock.
“I was racing Chris really hard,” Elliott said. “I was trying all I could to get by him. He was doing a good job of controlling my bumper when I was hitting him and he did a good job of keeping me behind him. I’m glad we could capitalize on a little misfortune for him and gain that one spot from last fall. My bumper was getting bluer and bluer. I was trying to pass him. Johnny was coming, the pressure was being put on me. It was a fun race, I hope everybody enjoyed watching. We were all trying really hard and I’m glad we could pull it out,”
Defending series champion Johnny Sauter, in his first race at Martinsville since beating Elliott last fall, finished second and picked up a playoff point for winning the race’s second stage. Bell, who was involved in a late-race crash, wound up third.
Bell appeared to be on his way to victory until a Lap 238 crash, which also involved the No. 19 of Austin Cindric allowed Elliott and Sauter to pass, despite his previous efforts to protect the lead.
“I was getting through lap traffic, then I got to [Cindric]. I got into the back of him in (Turns) 3 and 4, and then he got all the way up the race track out of 4. At that point, I went down to get underneath him getting into 1 and he decided he was going to go down with me,” Bell said. “Looking back at it, I should have given myself another corner and maybe the result would have been different. It’s going to take a little bit to get over this one, but we’ll be fresh for Kansas.”
Elliott, who started on the pole, wasn’t sure that his newfound success would translate to him being a favorite in Sunday’s STP 500. He will start on the outside of the front row in his fourth career Cup start. His best finish came last October when he came home 12th.
“I really don’t know that it does,” he said. “I think you have to reset tonight and rethink for tomorrow’s Cup race. I hope I learned some things today, we’ll just have to wait and see and hopefully it goes well tomorrow.”
Racing continues tomorrow at Martinsville Speedway with the STP 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.