Closer and closer to that first victory each time out this season, Chase Elliott was able to take home the checkered flag Saturday at Iowa Speedway in the Graham Tire 150 for his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series triumph.
Elliott, the second generation driver of the No. 9 Aarons/HendrickCars.com Chevrolet from Dawsonville, Ga., inherited the lead on Lap 145 from a dominant Brett Moffitt and held on through a green-white-checkered finish for the first victory in 16 career K&N Pro Series East starts.
Moffitt, the defending race winner from nearby Grimes, earned the pole earlier in the evening Saturday and seemed destined to repeat in front of the hometown faithful. He held leads of three and four seconds during the middle stages of the races, but was caught in the closing laps by Cale Conley, who made incidental contact that slowed both and allowed Elliott to capitalize. Moffitt had to settle for fifth place.
“Brett [Moffitt] had the dominant car tonight, and you hate to see that get taken away from anybody – especially when it’s you – but we’ll take it when we can get it,” Elliott said. “We had a really fast car, one that I think was capable of winning, we just had to have things go our way.”
Ryan Blaney followed Elliott across the line for his second runner-up finish of the year. Conley and action sports star Travis Pastrana also recorded personal best finishes in third and fourth, respectively.
“I hate it that I got into Brett Moffitt like I did,” Conley said. “I think I got in over my head a little bit just trying to go for a win. I saw an opening and I tried to take advantage of it. Maybe next time I’ll know what to do if I’m in a position to win it.”
Following Moffitt, the rest of the top 10 in the sixth-annual K&N Pro Series East & K&N Pro Series West combination race were Kyle Larson, Sergio Pena, Dylan Kwasniewski, Greg Pursley and Eddie MacDonald.
As the highest finishing K&N Pro Series West driver, Kwasniewski is also credited with a win in that series, the fourth of his career. The 16-year-old from Las Vegas extended the season points advantage he brought to Iowa and now leads teammate Greg Pursley by 15 points.
“Eighth is typically not the best finish, but a good points day and I’m still in the lead now,” Kwasniewski said. “It was a fun race, I had a blast, and we came home with all the fenders on it.”
Elliott, 16, also extended his lead in the K&N Pro Series East standings to 20 points over Moffitt with the Iowa victory and as the overall race winner he has earned a secured starting position for the inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach on the short track at Daytona International Speedway during 2013 Speedweeks.
The K&N Pro Series West will return to action on May 26 at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway while the K&N Pro Series East will next race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., on June 2.