Chase Elliott became the second-youngest driver, ever, to win a NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Friday night, getting by Kevin Harvick with 16 laps remaining in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway and claiming his first-career victory in the series in only his sixth start at the age of 18 years, four months and seven days. He also became only the second series championship-eligible driver to win in 2014, six races into the season, joining Regan Smith, the Daytona winner in February. Harvick, after leading a race-high 101 laps of the 200 that made up the race, wound up fourth. Elliott and Kyle Busch tied for second in the laps-led category, each leading 38.
"I went to him (Harvick) for a lot of advice this week," Elliott said.
Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson also got by Harvick in the closing laps to finish second and third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fifth, and Matt Kenseth was sixth. The second highest-finishing Nationwide Series championship-eligible driver was Smith, who finished seventh. Despite finishing just two positions outside the top-five, Smith brought up the rear for JR Motorsports, which saw all four of its teams finish inside the top-10. Also driving for JRM were Elliott, Harvick and Earnhardt, who all ran within the top-10 for the entire race after they all started the race in the top-six.
Most of Harvick's laps led came in the first half of the race. He led the first 87 laps before being passed by Bush on lap 88. Busch and Larson, along with Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher, started in the back after failing to make qualifying attempts, as their cars spent the entire qualifying session in technical inspection because of camber and rear-end housing issues.
By lap 10, both Busch and Larson were just outside the top-10 in 11th and 12th. By lap 31, Busch moved into second. Larson got up to second on a restart following a caution just past lap 50. Busch and Larson then each took turns in second, racing Harvick for the lead. Busch was finally able to become the first driver, other than Harvick, to lead the race on lap 88.
"The car's really good, dude, real smooth," Busch reported to crew chief Adam Stevens over the radio.
Soon after, Harvick gave up a few more positions as he fought a wheel weight issue. On lap 135, Elliott claimed the lead for the first time as Busch lost a few spots, himself.
The JRM duo of Elliott and Earnhardt were then battling for the lead, with Elliott holding down the top spot and Earnhardt running second. Earnhardt was able to take the lead with 45 laps to go. But Harvick wasn't finished. He got off pit road first during the fifth and final caution of the race that came out with 32 laps to go to lead a few more laps before Elliott took the lead for good with 16 to go.
"Unbelievable, man," Elliott said. "I can't believe it. Just to have this opportunity is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Other top-10 finishers included Ryan Blaney in eighth, Dillon in ninth, and Elliott Sadler in 10th.