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Elliott takes Xfinity victory at Richmond

September 11th, 2015 10:55 pm by HANK KURZ Jr., AP Sports Writer

Elliott takes Xfinity victory at Richmond

Chase Elliott celebrates after Friday night's NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va. (AP photo)

RICHMOND, Va. — Chase Elliott got away from polesitter Kyle Busch on a restart with 26 laps to go Friday night and won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Richmond International Raceway to end a 39-event winless streak.

Busch, starting fourth to Elliott’s first on the restart, appeared to make contact with the defending series champion, but Elliott was able to get away enough so that Busch could never put a bumper on him again, allowing a long-awaited celebration in victory lane.

“That’s just racing sometimes and sometimes things just don’t go your way,” Elliott said about his struggles. “We’ve had a couple of opportunities this year to win races and I’ve done my fair share of messing that up.”

Elliott jumped from third to second in the season standings, 21 points behind 10th-place finisher Chris Buescher with eight races remaining.

“Chase did a great job,” team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “It’s been a difficult season for them but I think that they may be starting to get their legs and start to maybe make a run and put some pressure on those guys.”

It was the first time in the past 23 races at Richmond that the winner wasn’t a Sprint Cup Series regular. The last regular competitor in the lower series to win on the 0.75-mile, D-shaped oval was Busch in 2004. It also was Chevrolet’s 400th victory in the series.

Busch was second, followed by Brian Scott, Joey Logano and Erik Jones.

One of the stories of the race was Josh Berry, a Late Model racer who made only his third career start in the Xfinity Series and looked like a seasoned veteran in the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. He ran down Busch with about 50 laps to go for fifth place, passed Logano a short time later for fourth and had the strongest car on long green-flag runs.

“When I passed Kyle Busch, I was like, ‘Holy cow, I just passed Kyle Busch,' ” Berry said.

Busch was complimentary, too.

“He did a great job. Drove by me,” Busch said.

But Berry’s team struggled on pit road all night, and when a caution flew with him running fourth with just over 30 laps to go, he emerged from pit road running ninth and without enough time to make enough of a comeback. He rallied to finish seventh.

“I need to do better on the restarts and I need to do better on pit road,” Berry said.

Busch had the fastest car on fresh tires early in the race and was one of the best on short runs all night, but his car faded during long green-flag segments, forcing him to play catch up repeatedly.

“I don’t know where the long run speed went,” Busch said.

He led three times for 78 laps.

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