DAWSONVILLE, Georgia — With two top-fives and a worst finish of seventh in his first five Late Model starts, 13-year-old Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, is quickly proving that the Georgia peach didn’t fall far from the tree.
Elliott made his first Late Model start at Anderson Motor Speedway Friday night for round two of the 13-race Georgia Asphalt Series (GAS) schedule and scored his first career top-five, finishing third to two Anderson Late Model veterans.
The following night, Elliott and the Bill Elliott Racing team travelled south to Montgomery Motor Speedway (Ala.) for the Southern Pro Late Model Series (SPLMS) 100-lap event during the re-opening of the historic track. Elliott bettered his Anderson finish with a runner-up to veteran Russel Fleeman, 2008 GAS champion.
“We had another good week in the Aaron’s Dream Machine,” Elliott said as he reflected on the strong showing. “We ran two races and had two top five finishes. The car stayed consistent in both races and that’s what made us finish so strong. I can’t thank Ricky (Turner), Jim (Barfield) and my Dad and Mom enough for giving me the equipment and opportunity and Aaron’s for giving me the support to go out and run strong every weekend.”
It’s almost a given that Elliott is the youngest driver when he shows up at the track each weekend, and no one understands more than he the importance of earning the respect of series officials and fellow drivers – and that can only be accomplished through clean, strong driving and smart decisions on the track.
The youngster has been receiving positive feedback from drivers in all series, including Montgomery’s SPLMS winner Russell Fleeman. "Man, Chase (Elliott) is going to be a great driver", said Fleeman, "he's a young kid filling a man's shoes."
Anderson Motor Speedway, Georgia Asphalt Series
Elliott, who was not completely satisfied with the No. 9 Aaron’s Lucky Dog Dream Machine in practice, picked up speed during qualifying and laid down a fast lap around the 3/8-mile, high banked Anderson Motor Speedway (AMS) to claim the fourth starting position. As luck would have it, the random draw resulted in a five-car inversion, putting Elliott’s teammate Casey Roderick on the pole and the No. 9 on the outside of the front row for the start of the 100-lap GAS event.
Roderick and Elliott led the 12-car field to the green just before 10 o’clock Friday night. Elliott was shuffled backward on the start until he found an opening in the line and fell into the fifth position. By lap 25, the No. 9 was working the back bumper of TJ Reaid, winner of the first GAS race two weeks earlier.
Elliott put the Dream Machine on cruise control until lap 50 when he passed Reaid for fourth position as Reiad – who led the GAS point standings going into Anderson – fell off the pace and dropped out with brake problems. By lap 60, Elliott had caught the No. 19 of teammate Roderick just as the first caution flag flew for fluid on the track.
On the re-start, the Aaron’s Dream Machine, which was set up to be strong on long runs, slipped from fourth to sixth. Elliott quickly caught Roderick in fifth. The two made slight contact, and Roderick, who was already battling a loose race car, slipped up the track allowing Elliott to take over fifth position.
The field slowed again for a caution on lap 72, the second and final of the 100-lap event, resulting in the No. 12 of Joey Senter being parked for rough driving. Elliott gained one spot to re-start in the fourth position for the final shoot-out to the checkers.
This time, the Aaron’s Dream Machine made a strong run at the green flag and battled side-by-side with No. 10 Greg Simpson to take over third. Inside 20 laps to go, Elliott began pulling away from Simpson while local favorites Randy Porter and Ralph Carnes battled for the lead.
While Porter and Carnes ran nose-to-tail and swapped the lead, Elliott was slowly gained on them. Elliott crossed the finish line in third, his first top-five in only four Late Model starts.
GAS Anderson Unofficial Results (Lead Lap Cars):
1. Randy Porter
2. Ralph Carnes
3. Chase Elliott
4. Zach Rearden
5. Greg Simpson
6. Casey Roderick
Friday’s race at Anderson was broadcast live by the GAS Radio Network, headquartered at Lanier National Speedway. You can listen to the broadcast archive by visiting the GAS page at www.LanierNationalSpeedway.com.
Montgomery Motor Speedway, Southern Pro Late Model Series
Coming off his first career top-five, Elliott carried the momentum to Montgomery Motor Speedway (MMS) for Saturday’s Southern Pro Late Model Series (SPLMS) event, the first race at MMS since the track closed three years ago.
Elliott and the No. 9 Aaron’s Lucky Dog Dream Machine started the 100-lap Pro Late Model event on the outside of the second row in the fourth position among the 13-car field.
Before the half-way mark, Elliott tracked down leader Russell Fleeman, who started on the pole, by passing both Scotty Ellis and Ralph Carnes. Elliott and Fleeman were clearly the cars to beat and quickly pulled away from the field. The Aaron’s Dream Machine appeared to be quicker than Fleeman, but Elliott wasn’t able to get around Fleeman’s smooth driving through the corners.
Elliott opted to sit back and conserve tires for a late-race run on Freeman. Soon after, though, around lap 77, leader Freeman got into a battle with a lapped car, sending the car into the grass and spewing grass and dirt all over the grill of the No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine.
The debris on the grill caused the engine in the No. 9 to overheat, and Elliott had to drive for ten laps with water spraying on the windshield until the next caution.
Elliott’s spotter, NASCAR legend – and father – Bill Elliott, explained to his protégé, “It’s your call son. You can pit and we can clean your grill off and that should take care of the problem, or you can stay on the track and not lose your position.” The elder Elliott suggested that the young driver ease up to the back bumper of the leader and brush the nose back and forth to clean off the grill, hoping the water temperatures would come back down.
The No. 9 crew stood on the wall on pit road, waiting to see what Elliott would do. After seeing the water temperature drop from 160 to 140 degrees, he opted to stay out on the track for the final race to the finish.
Elliott hung on for the final laps, still battling the water spraying on the windshield and making a charge on Fleeman. While Elliott pushed as hard as he could, he just wasn’t able to get around the leader and brought the No. 9 Aaron’s Lucky Dog Dream Machine home in the runner-up position, Elliott’s best career finish in five Late Model starts.
SPLMS Montgomery Unofficial Results:
1. Russell Fleeman
2. Chase Elliott
3. Ralph Carnes
4. Chris Serio
5. Warren Mobley
6. James Nealis
7. Brandon Parker
8. Scotty Ellis
9. Justin Caton
10. Kyle Mitchell
The next stop for Chase Elliott and the No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine will be at South Carolina’s Dillon Motor Speedway for the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour RC Cola/Moonpie 100 on Saturday, April 25. The race will be Elliott’s second start in the ASA/SAT and his first at the 4/10-mile DMS. The ASA/SAT is the only nationally televised asphalt short track racing series, and Saturday’s race at Dillon will be broadcast on Fox’s SportSouth in May, June, July and September. Stay tuned for more information on the Dillon event and coverage.
For more information about Chase Elliott, including his Late Model schedule, and the Bill Elliott Racing team, please visit www.BillElliott.com and click on the BER Team tab.
Chase Elliott is supported by Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership; the Dawsonville Pool Room; AFCO Racing Products; Alpha Canvas & Awning; ARP Bodies; Barnes Distribution; Bell Helmets; Billet Performance Karting; Bosch; ButlerBuilt Professional Seat Systems; Circle Racing Wheels; The Decal Source; Gary Hess Designs; Howe Racing Enterprises; Lincoln Electric Company; Mechanix Wear; Mobil 1; Oakley Uniforms; Penske Racing Shocks; Performance Friction Brakes; Pit Pal Products; Quarter Master; Racing Electronics; Schroth Racing/HMS Motorsport; Seymour; Swift Springs; Winters Performance Products; WIX Filters; Xtreme Racing Products; and VP Racing Fuels.
About Aaron’s: Aaron's Sales & Lease Ownership stores offer customers access to high-quality furniture, appliances, electronics and computers for sale or as a lease-ownership arrangement. Customers have the option of buying their merchandise for an attractive cash price or opting to lease their merchandise for even greater flexibility. With a lease option, customers make modest monthly payments and have the immediate use of the items they need without waiting for credit checks or other delays. Plus, Aaron's will take care of delivery, setup, repairs, and more for the duration of a customer's lease.
The Aaron's concept has proven to be successful for half a century; in fact, the very first Aaron's location opened in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1955. Aaron's is a leader in the sale and lease ownership of residential furniture, consumer electronics and home appliances, with more than 1,500 Company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada. The Company also manufactures an exclusive line of furniture, bedding and accessories at 10 facilities in four states.
For more information, please visit shopaarons.com.
About Bill Elliott Racing: In 2008, NASCAR legend Bill Elliott launched a Driver Development program as an extension of Bill Elliott Racing. Based on the principles of teamwork, strong work ethic and positive attitudes, the program aims to guide young drivers through the highs and lows of life in auto racing and to make them leaders on and off the track.
Drivers will climb through the ranks of asphalt racing, starting in the Legends Racing Series and move up to Pro Late Model stock cars – including the Georgia Asphalt Series (GAS) and ASA Racing – and onto Super Late Models in series such as the Champion Racing Association (CRA) Super Series. From there they will progress to the ARCA RE/MAX and other series that are age and talent specific. To encourage strong communication and clear feedback, drivers will also intermittently run dirt Late Models that reinforce car control and a thorough understanding of the feel of the car.
Please visit www.BillElliott.com for more information on the Bill Elliott Racing team.
2009 RACE-BY-RACE RESULTS
Date Venue Series Qual Start Finish
3/28 South Georgia Motorsports Park ASA/LMSS 7 7 6
4/4 Watermelon Capital Speedway GAS 4 4 7
4/11 Lanier National Speedway ASA/SAT 16 16 6
4/17 Anderson Motor Speedway GAS 4 2 3
4/18 Montgomery Motor Speedway SPLMS 4 4 2
4/25 Dillon Motor Speedway ASA/SAT
5/2 Lanier National Speedway GAS, SUPER 6
5/9 Watermelon Capital Speedway ASA/LMSS
5/17 Hickory Motor Speedway ASA/SAT
5/23 Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway ASA/SAT
5/30 Lanier National Speedway GAS, SUPER 6
6/6 Watermelon Capital Speedway ASA/SAT
6/20 Montgomery Motor Speedway ASA/SAT
7/3 Lanier National Speedway GAS, SUPER 6
7/11 Orange County Speedway ASA/SAT
7/18 Watermelon Capital Speedway GAS
7/25 Lanier National Speedway GAS, SUPER 6
8/8 Anderson Motor Speedway ASA/SAT
8/15 Lanier National Speedway GAS, SUPER 6
8/22 South Georgia Motorsports Park GAS
8/29 Watermelon Capital Speedway ASA/LMSS
9/5 Lanier National Speedway GAS, SUPER 6
9/19 Watermelon Capital Speedway GAS
10/31-11/1 * Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway GAS
11/15-13 ** Gresham Motorsports Park
12/2-6 *** Five Flags Speedway
ASA/LMSS = ASA Late Model Series South * 27th Annual All-American 400 weekend
GAS = Georgia Asphalt Series ** 26th Annual World Crown 300 weekend
ASA/SAT = ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour *** 42nd Annual Snowball Derby weekend
SPLMS = Southern Pro Late Model Series
SUPER 6 = Lanier National Speedway Super Six Series
SCHEDULE IS TENTATIVE AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE.