DAYTONA BEACH, FL (WMBF) - The xfinity Series' first race of the season took a long time to get going, but winner Chase Elliott and the pack behind him didn't disappoint in the end.
Three cautions over the first 23 laps of the Powershares QQQ 300 kept any driver from getting much momentum early. Then the field went 80 straight laps under a green flag as the leader shuffled from Joey Logano to Kasey Kahne to Elliott Sadler. In all, nine different drivers led the race. There were 19 lead changes. It was Elliott who was able to hang on in the end.
He wasn't afraid to soak in the win.
"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."
On the final lap of the race, Elliott jumped to the bottom of the track in an aggressive move to block Joey Logano. Logano didn't have enough momentum to get around Elliott at the line.
"Finished second again," Logano said with laughter. "I mean, second's not bad, but kind of sucks at the same time."
This was Logano's eighth top-ten finish in 12 races at Daytona International Speedway.
Despite a 4th place finish, Elliott Sadler is going to be the xfinity series points leader. He finished higher than any other full-time driver on the circuit.
"Points lead is good," Sadler said after the race, "but it's all about, like Joey said, getting wins. Especially with this chase format."
This chase is new to the xfinity series. A win would have mean an automatic spot in the chase field for Sadler.
Elliott now turns his attention to the Daytona 500. He's the pole-sitter for the race, the youngest to ever accomplish that feat.
"There's no guarantee tomorrow's going to go good," Elliott said when asked if Saturday's win was a confidence boost for Sunday. "It's hard to gain a ton of confidence for something that's going to be completely different tomorrow."
Elliott will go to bed, with what is most likely the biggest race of his young career looming on Sunday.
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