WINCHESTER, IN - Defending Winchester 400 winner Chase Elliott of Dawsonville, Georgia battled back from a mid-race transmission change o finish third in the 40th running of one of the most prestigious short track races in America.
Elliott started the 400 from seventh place after posting a qualifying lap of 116. 603 miles per hour, just a few ticks of the stopwatch off the pole-winning speed of 118.087 mph set by Derrick Griffin.
Elliott lined up third for the restart at Lap 93, but his transmission broke on the start, setting off a chain-reaction wreck behind him and bringing out the red flag.
Although Elliott was apologetic about the wreck, the red flag turned out to be a blessing for him as his Aaron's crew was able to replace the transmission and get him back on the track in 14th place when racing resumed.
Elliott continued his march to the front, passing Mason Mingus and Donnie Wilson on his way to the top five when caution was displayed again on Lap 147.
Elliott pitted for two right side tires, and the Aaron's pit crew won the race off pit road, beating all six drivers ahead of them to give Elliott the race lead.
The replacement transmission, which had different gear ratios, put Elliott and his equipment to the test on restarts, but it didn't keep him from maintaining the lead until he stopped for two left-side tires during a caution period at Lap 241. He was still leading when he stopped for right-side tires at Lap 264, but he stalled his car on exit of the pits and came out in the fourth position.
For the next 100 laps Elliott ran between second and fifth place, restart after restart. With five laps to go and Elliott and Griffin racing side by side and nose to tail for the top spot, the caution flag flew.
Elliott's crew chief Ricky Turner made the gutsy call to give up second place and bring his driver to pit road for fresh right-side tires, a move intended to give his driver an edge on the late-race restart.
With only seven drivers on the lead lap, Elliott lined up fifth for the restart. Jurkovic, who inherited second place when Elliott drove to pit road, took the lead at the drop of the green flag, but another caution flag flew at Lap 398.
This time it was Griffin coming to pit road for tires, so Jurkovic led on the restart with Elliott in second place. But as the lead trio came to the checkered flag, Griffin passed Elliott to take second.
"Not a terrible day after you think of everything we went through," Elliott said. "The team did a fantastic job. No one ever gave up and Ricky made some good calls.