Long: Chase Elliott’s Daytona win was a celebration of one

(Photo by Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chase Elliott has grown up around crowds. They shadowed his father, just as a young Chase did, when Bill Elliott raced. When it was Chase’s turn to drive, they surrounded him, at first it was more of a curiosity or a chance to see his famous father.

But Chase soon showed that Bill’s talent had been passed down and the crowds grew. They wanted to see what could be the next big thing in NASCAR.

Saturday, in the biggest moment of his career, Chase Elliott suddenly found himself alone.

After a beatin’, bangin’, swervin’, sweatin’, nearly-wreckin’ last-lap duel with Joey Logano, Elliott won Saturday’s Xfinity race.

Seconds later, his engine coughed, gurgled and sputtered. He was out of gas. Elliott’s car coasted to the start/finish line and he parked it. He collected the checkered flag, raised his fist to the cheering crowd and then stood beside his car waiting for a tow truck to push him to victory lane.

Elliott was so far away from pit road, it took a few minutes before a few of his crew reached him. So he stood there alone after having won his first race at Daytona International Speedway.

There was nobody rushing to pat him on the back, pour a drink over his head or hug him in the middle of a TV interview. There wasn’t even a TV interview. He stood there looking around. The crowd stood and looked back. Nobody really seemed quite sure what to do.

“I just tried to enjoy it,’’ Elliott later said of that moment. “I think victory lane often gets rushed through. That’s something that shouldn’t get rushed, in my opinion. That’s something that is hard to get. You should enjoy them because you don’t know if you’re ever going to get another one of them.

“For me, I was standing out there in the middle of the front straightaway at Daytona with a checkered flag in front of me, with a bunch of people in front of me, a speedway with a lot of history all around. I tried to take it in and enjoy that moment.’’

That’s what this weekend has been about.

Elliott’s win came a day after the Camping World Truck Series race, which ended with another notable surname in victory lane.

Johnny Sauter, whose family has deep roots in racing, won the Truck race. It was his second series win at Daytona but first since his father, Jim, died in Oct. 2014. Jim Sauter won an ARCA race at Daytona in 1978.

“First time I won here was pretty special,’’ Johnny Sauter said. “To get a win with him not being here … it’s different.’’

That win came a night after Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his qualifying race – on the 15th anniversary of his father’s death in the Daytona 500. Earnhardt said afterward how it “really warms my heart” to have seen the tributes to his father on social media that day.

“I was daydreaming a little bit,’’ Earnhardt said that day. “I’m guilty of daydreaming a little bit about winning this race tonight because of the day. That was special to me.’’

Saturday was special for Chase Elliott. Bill Elliott was with him in victory lane. So was Chase’s mother, who handed her son a phone with Rick Hendrick calling to congratulate him.

“They were just both excited,’’ Chase Elliott said of his parents. “Dad and I talked before the race just about how aggressive this race gets, guys pushing, just trying to be smart and get to the end is what him and I talked about was most important. Fortunately, (I) got to the end and had a shot.’’

He got to share this special moment … after being alone in front of thousands of people.

Portland Xfinity race results, driver points

Portland Xfinity results
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cole Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when the top three cars made contact and went on to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway. Custer is the 10th different winner in 13 races this season.

MORE: Portland Xfinity race results

MORE: Driver points after Portland Xfinity race

JR Motorsports took the next three spots: Justin Allgaier placed second, Sam Mayer was third and Josh Berry was fourth. Austin Hill completed the top five.

John Hunter Nemechek remains the points leader after 13 races. He has a 14-point lead on Hill. Nemechek leads Allgaier by 44 points.

Cole Custer wins Xfinity race at Portland in overtime


Cole Custer held off Justin Allgaier at the finish to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in overtime at Portland International Raceway. It is Custer’s first victory of the season.

JR Motorsports placed second, third and fourth with Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Josh Berry. Austin Hill finished fifth.

MORE: Race results, driver points

Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when Parker Kligerman, who restarted third, attempted to pass Allgaier, who was leading. Sheldon Creed was on the outside of Allgaier. All three cars made contact entering Turn 1, allowing Custer to slip by. Creed finished seventh. Kligerman placed 14th.

Custer won the second stage when John Hunter Nemechek made contact with Creed’s car while racing for the lead on the final lap of the stage. The contact spun Creed and Custer inched by Nemechek at the line.

Early in the final stage, Creed gained revenge with contact that spun Nemechek, who went on to finish 10th. A few laps later, Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith had issues. Smith spun Nemechek. After getting back around, Nemechek quickly caught Smith and turned into Smith’s car, damaging it.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite the contact on the overtime restart, runner-up Justin Allgaier managed to score his fourth consecutive top-three finish. … Sam Mayer’s third-place finish is his best on a road course. … Austin Hill’s fifth-place finish gives him four consecutive top-five results.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Daniel Hemric finished 33rd after a fire in his car. … Riley Herbst placed 32nd after an engine issue. After opening the season with six top 10s in a row, Herbst has gone seven races in a row without a top 10.

NEXT: The series competes June 10 at Sonoma Raceway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Truck race results at WWT Raceway: Grant Enfinger wins


Grant Enfinger took the lead when the leaders wrecked in the final laps and held off the field in overtime to win Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.

It is Enfinger’s second win in the last five races. He also collected a $50,000 bonus for winning the Triple Truck Challenge.

MORE: Truck race results

MORE: Driver points after WWT Raceway

Christian Eckes finished second and was followed by Stewart Friesen, Carson Hocevar and Chase Purdy.

Ty Majeski and Zane Smith wrecked while racing for the lead with six laps to go. Majeski, running on the inside of Smith, slid up the track and clipped Smith’s truck. Both hit the wall. That put Enfinger in the lead.

Smith finished 20th. Majeski placed 30th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Grant Enfinger’s victory is his fourth top 10 in the last five races. … Carson Hocevar’s fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five result. … Stewart Friesen’s third-place finish moved him into a playoff spot with four races left in the regular season. … Matt DiBenedetto‘s sixth-place finish is his third consecutive top 10. … Jesse Love finished ninth in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ty Majeski had a chance to take the points lead with series leader Corey Heim out because of illness, but Majeski’s 30th-place finish after running at the front most of the day, leaves him behind Heim. … Hailie Deegan finished 32nd after contact sent her truck into the wall hard. … After finishing a career-high third last week at Charlotte, Dean Thompson placed 34th Saturday due to an engine issue.

NEXT: The series races June 23 at Nashville Superspeedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1)

Xfinity starting lineup at Portland: Sheldon Creed wins pole


Sheldon Creed scored his first career Xfinity Series pole by taking the top spot for Saturday’s race at Portland International Raceway.

Creed, making his 50th career series start, earned the pole with a lap of 95.694 mph on the 1.97-mile road course.

MORE: Portland Xfinity starting lineup

Cole Custer will start second with a lap of 95.398 mph. He is followed by Josh Berry (94.242 mph), John Hunter Nemechek (95.127) and Charlotte winner Justin Allgaier (94.897). Road racing specialist Jordan Taylor, driving for Kaulig Racing, qualified sixth at 94.772 mph.

The green flag is scheduled to wave 4:46 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.