Sunday, April 22, 2018
Sports

Elliott wins Xfinity series opener at Daytona, edging Logano

DAYTONA BEACH — One Daytona victory down, the big one to go.

Chase Elliott won Saturday's Xfinity series season opener at Daytona International Speedway, edging Joey Logano for his first victory at NASCAR's most famous track.

It was the perfect prelude to today's Sprint Cup opener, the Daytona 500, which Elliott will start on the pole — and with tougher competition chasing him.

"It means a lot, man," Elliott said. "This is Daytona. I'm just happy to be here. We still have 500 miles to go (today). Lot of work to do here."

Elliott took the lead from Logano on a final restart with 13 laps to go in the Powershares QQQ 300 then blocked his fellow Sprint Cup regular on the last lap. Logano got a strong run on the outside a few hundred feet from the finish, then banged the side of Elliott's No. 88 Chevrolet several times, but he couldn't get past.

"Chase obviously did what he had to do there at the end of the race," said JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has signed Elliott for a handful of Xfinity races this season. "I thought that was very gutsy to be able to really put such an aggressive block on (Logano). He did what he had to do. Could have turned him into the wall. Joey might have saved both of them from doing all that.

"He did what he had to do to keep the guy behind him. It won him the race, so I'm proud of Chase."

Elliott became the youngest to win at Daytona in NASACR's second-tier series at 20 years, 2 months, 23 days.

Elliott calmly climbed out of his car, grabbed the checkered flag, then pumped his fist a few times — the kind of subdued celebration outsiders have grown to expect from the son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott.

Logano, last year's Daytona 500 winner, and Kasey Kahne led much of the second part of the 300-mile race around the high-banked, 21/2-mile oval, with Elliott following closely.

Logano missed out by 0.043 seconds. It was his third second-place finish in three races during Speedweeks. He also was second in the exhibition Sprint Unlimited and in a 500 qualifying race.

"Dang it. I'm sick of finishing second," Logano said. "Too many seconds. … I mean, second's not bad, but kind of (stinks) at the same time."

Kahne was third, followed by Elliott Sadler and pole-sitter Austin Dillon. Elliott, Kahne and Sadler gave JR Motorsports three of the top four spots.

Trucks driver okay: Christopher Bell was released from a hospital around 1 a.m. Saturday, shortly after a harrowing wreck on the last lap of Friday's truck series race.

During a multitruck accident in the NextEra Energy Resources 250, Bell's No. 4 Toyota flipped nearly 10 times. He got out and walked to a waiting ambulance.

"Nobody wants to test the safety gear that they are wearing, but thankfully everything I had last night worked perfectly," Bell posted Saturday on his Twitter account, adding that he "walked away with only bruises."

Last practice: Earnhardt Jr. had the fastest lap in final practice for the Daytona 500. Earnhardt , whose car is nicknamed "Amelia," reached 197.131 mph.

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