Chase Elliott close to wrapping up Nationwide Series title


The championship countdown is just about over for Chase Elliott.

With his fourth-place finish in Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, Elliott increased his lead atop the Nationwide Series standings to 48 points over Regan Smith.

That margin is Elliott’s largest lead in the NNS standings this season.

The 18-year-old Elliott, son of NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee-elect Bill Elliott, could clinch the NNS championship next week at Phoenix, the second-to-last race of the season.

MORE: Kyle Busch wins NNS event at Texas, goes for only second 3-race weekend sweep in NASCAR history

But Elliott isn’t thinking about the championship just yet.

“We just want to keep digging and try to get better,” he told ESPN after Saturday’s race. “I’m really proud of everybody not for giving up. … I’m looking forward to going to Phoenix. We’d like to get another win.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski


Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
1 Comment

SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).