MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) — Chase Elliott grabbed the lead when Christopher Bell wiggled with 17 laps to go and held off teammate Johnny Sauter to win the NASCAR truck race at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday.
Elliott, who lost out to Sauter on the 0.526-mile oval last October, held off one challenge from the defending series champion and pulled away for his second victory in 12 career starts in the series. Sauter finished second, followed by Bell, rookie Noah Gragson and Ty Dillon.
The exciting finish was set up by a mistake Bell made with 17 laps remaining that handed the top two spots to Elliott and Sauter.
Bell had led for 90 laps, much of it with Elliott on his rear bumper, looking for an opening. The break came when Bell, frustrated that rookie Austin Cindric was slowing him down while trying to stay on the lead lap, finally nudged Cindric heading into a turn, causing Cindric to lose traction, and then Bell to get loose as well. It created an inside lane for Elliott and Sauter to slide into the top two positions.
Sauter immediately tried to get around Elliott on the outside when the race went back to green with 12 laps to go, but failed to do so and had to slide back in line to protect his position. He did, and Elliott pulled away and wasn’t challenged again over the final 10 laps.
Elliott, who is ineligible to collect points in the truck series as a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competitor, led at the end of the 70-lap first stage, and Sauter led at the end of the second, earning him valuable regular-season points and a valuable playoff point.
More AP racing: http://racing.ap.org