NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie Chase Elliott (No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet) took home his third victory last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, vaulting the 18-year-old son of NASCAR star Bill Elliott atop the championship points standings. He is seven points ahead of JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith and eight ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Elliott Sadler. Qualifying third, Elliott led a race-high 85 laps and held off a surging Trevor Bayne (No. 6 AdvoCare Ford) as Bayne closed the gap driving on fresh tires. “The gap was closing,” Bayne said. “Probably 10 more laps, but we’ll never know.” In 18 starts, Elliott has 13 top 10s, including eight top-five finishes, to go along with his three wins. Elliott is tied with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Kyle Busch for the most Nationwide Series wins this season. … Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart returned to sprint cars last Friday by winning his first event since breaking his leg in two places during a race nearly a year ago. “If you haven’t heard already, I ran my sprint car tonight and won,” Stewart tweeted from his @TonyStewart Twitter handle. Stewart missed the final 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events last season following the accident, but returned to the high-powered vehicles when he first tested in May. “It’s my life,” Stewart said in May. “I’m going to live my life. It’s nobody else’s decision, but mine. I think there are a lot worse things I could be doing with my life than what I choose to do.” Stewart competed again Saturday night at a different dirt track in Michigan and finished third. … Beginning at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 14, the 16 cars in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will feature new additions to their respective paint schemes. In celebrating the accomplishments of the eligible drivers, their cars will have their roof number, front splitter and windshield header colored yellow along with the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup logo on their front quarter panel. Once a driver is eliminated after one of the Chase’s first three rounds, the new paint scheme will be removed from the car until the final four in contention compete for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 16.
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