Elliott Notches Seventh-Place Finish on Chaotic Day at Watkins Glen

JR Motorsports | 8/8/2015

Alpha Energy Solutions Ben Rhodes Chase Elliott NAPA News Race Report Regan Smith TaxSlayer Watkins Glen XFINITY Series

Despite a chaotic day at Watkins Glen International, Chase Elliott was able to bring home a top-10 finish. A late-spin caused Regan Smith to finish 20th and an engine problem placed Ben Rhodes 35th overall.

Race 20 of 33: Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International

Track Specs: 2.45-mile road course / 82 laps

Weather:  Sunny, 81 degrees

Race Winner: Joey Logano

Elliott’s finish: 7th

Smith’s finish: 20th

Rhodes’ finish: 35th  

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, finished seventh in Saturday’s Zippo 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) race at Watkins Glen International.  With 13 races remaining in the 2015 NXS season, Elliott is in second place, just 24 points behind championship leader, Chris Buescher.  Joey Logano led four times for 39 laps on his way to notching his 25th career NXS victory.

Elliott qualified third to begin an eventful Saturday afternoon at the 2.45-mile road course.  Early on, Elliott voiced to his NAPA team he needed to hit his marks to progress forward.  In fifth-place on lap 15, Elliott experienced a bit of adversity by spinning in the bus stop while trying to make a pass.  Elliott was able to refire the NAPA Camaro and continue on without a caution coming out.  Once up to speed, Elliott charged forward from the 25th position, climbing all the way to 17th by the lap-20 caution.  Crew chief Ernie Cope brought Elliott in four consecutive times, all while under caution from laps 21 to 24.  On the team’s first stop, four tires and fuel was the call.  The second, third and fourth time in were to top off with fuel to help their fuel window.

Elliott dazzled on the lap-27 restart, powering from 22nd to 14th before crossing the start-finish line just as another caution flag fell.  Elliott continued to advance forward, eventually finding the top-five for the first time since his lap-15 spin with 32 laps remaining in the race.  His remarkable comeback included a clutch pass on the No. 54 of Boris Said as he out braked the road-course veteran on his way to the front.

Caution-filled carnage would ultimately end the first road-course race of the season and Elliott managed to keep his NAPA Chevy out of harm’s way.  His final restart came with four laps to go, where he would hold his seventh-place position for a series leading 16th top-10 finish.

Logano bested teammate Brad Keselowski, Buescher, Said and Ty Dillon for his fourth NXS victory in 2015.

Chase Elliott, driver No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team

“We had a great NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet today.  I hate I messed up on lap 15 costing us a few spots, but was happy the way we progressed forward the remainder of the race.  These road-course races are fun, but you have to take care of your stuff out there.  I thought we did a good job all around in that department, especially after dealing with a day like yesterday.  This team continues to stay focused and hungry and that’s what I like, because we have plenty of racing to go and you never know what’s going to happen.  We had a car, I thought, to contend for a win today.  We just didn’t have the track position late in the going to make a case for it.  I’m looking forward to more road-course racing next week at Mid-Ohio.”

Regan Smith

Regan Smith and the No. 7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet team had high hopes of a high finish on Saturday in the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International, only to see those hopes go up in a cloud of tire smoke and frustration.

Running third on a restart on the 39th of 82 laps, Smith got punted from behind by Ty Dillon, who had run down the inside into the 90-degree Turn 1 and powered through the right rear fender of Smith’s bright red No. 7. Smith got it pointed the right way and back under way, but not until he’d lost 26 spots.

The race became a battle to survive on the lead lap until the final pit stop, and Smith did so, nearly climbing back to the top 10 before the caution waved on lap 57. After getting tires and fuel, he rejoined the race in 12th spot, prepared to salvage what had been an up-and-down day.

That chance ended on lap 67, when Smith was alongside Brendan Gaughan at the exit of Turn 5. Gaughan kept coming, door-slamming Smith’s car and sending it into the powder-blue Armco barrier at the exit. The impact tore the front splitter off Smith’s car and did a lot more damage to all four corners.

From there, it was a battle to stay on the lead lap and salvage as many points as possible. He finished 20th, on the lead lap, in a car with no front splitter—it was lodged under the fence in Turn 5. What started out as an optimistic day at his hometown track ended up with Smith giving back all 27 points he had gained the past four races to point leader Chris Buescher, who finished third. Smith entered the race a mere 39 points in arrears and left New York ailing by 57, still in fourth place in the standings.

Joey Logano won the race, followed by Brad Keselowski, Buescher, Boris Said and Dillon.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 TaxSlayer.com team

“We had a good car, good strategy and a chance to make a move in the points, but that all went away in Turn 1 when I got spun. We still had a chance to make something out of the day, a top-10 at least, but another car from the same team just turned right and hit me so hard I spun. I said before this race that this four-race stretch of road courses and Bristol could change this championship battle, and it did that. We were racing hard and wound up 20th. We will go to Mid-Ohio with the same plan we came here with, and start all over again.”

Ben Rhodes

After rallying through the field on two separate occasions, rookie Ben Rhodes’ promising day ended with a 35th-place finish in Saturday’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International due to a transmission issue.   

The No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions team faced an uphill battle from the drop of the green flag.  A broken drive plate in qualifying forced the team to make repairs prior to the race, and resulted in Rhodes dropping to the rear of the field for the start.  But the rookie wasted no time climbing forward.  By lap seven, he cracked the top 20 and further improved his position to ninth before the team’s first pit stop on lap 21.  Unfortunately, Rhodes drove through too many stalls on pit road and was penalized as a result. Rhodes again dropped to the tail end of the field  and lined up in 23rd for the ensuing restart. 

Back up to speed, Rhodes began a gradual ascent through the field with lap times comparable to the top five.  Rhodes worked into 18th and had his sites on the top 15 when a transmission issue became prevalent. The incident proved catastrophic for the team and Rhodes coasted the No. 88 machine behind pit wall 47 laps shy of the finish.

Joey Logano won the race and was followed to the line by Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher, Boris Said and Ty Dillon.

Ben Rhodes, driver No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions team

“The takeaway is that I learned a lot. I was racing with some of the best in the business, some of the best in the world.  I gradually got better and better as the weekend progressed.  I learned how to get through the bus stop better, made my shifts better, made my braking zones better and got more comfortable with our Alpha Chevy.  I guess it wasn’t enough in the end because I still made a lot of mistakes and I need to keep minimizing those.  The goal for the weekend was to finish all the laps and I didn’t do that, so it’s really disappointing for my team and myself.  I only have 10 of these opportunities and I need to make the most of them, and prove to people that I can do this.  I want to be in the Sprint Cup Series one day and it’s difficult to do that when you can’t finish all the laps at a road course.  So I just need to keep working at it and minimize my mistakes.  With the performance that we had, if I can just keep the car on the track, I think we’ll have good finishes.”

 

 

No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS

Chevrolet Camaro

Chase Elliott

Start

3rd

Finish

7th

Laps Completed (Led)

82 of 82 (1)

Points (Bonus)

38 (1)

Standings (from leader)

2nd (-24)

Status

Running 

 

 

No. 7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet Camaro

Regan Smith 

Start

8th 

Finish

20th  

Laps Completed (Led)

82 of 82 (0)

Points (Bonus)

24 (0)

Standings (from leader)

4th (-57)

Status

Running

 

 

No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions

Chevrolet Camaro

Ben Rhodes

Start

14th

Finish

35th

Laps Completed (Led)

35 of 82 (0)

Points (Bonus)

9 (0)

Standings (from leader)

10th (-157)

Status

Transmission

 

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • May 23 01:00 PM ET
    Alsco 300 at CharlotteCharlotte Motor Speedway
  • May 30 01:00 PM ET
    Mid-Ohio 170Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
  • June 6 01:30 PM ET
    LTi Printing 250Michigan International Speedway
  • June 13 08:30 PM ET
    Iowa 250Iowa Speedway
  • June 20 04:00 PM ET
    Chicagoland 300Chicagoland Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After LS Tractor 200

Phoenix Raceway | 3/7/2020
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Harrison Burton #1760
2Chase Briscoe173-3
3Austin Cindric155-21
4Brandon Jones148-28
5Ross Chastain146-30
6Noah Gragson143-33
7Ryan Sieg143-33
8Justin Haley140-36
9Justin Allgaier138-38
10Michael Annett119-57