DAWSONVILLE, Ga. (August 16, 2010) – Like teammate Casey Roderick, Chase Elliott had some adversity to overcome with this past weekend’s racing activities, but he and the Aaron’s Dream Machine Team did just that and capped off their weekend with a win at Mobile International Speedway.
Elliott also came away with the points lead in both the Pensacola and Mobile series that make up the Sunoco Gulf Coast Championship heading into the last race weekend of the summer on Sept. 24-25.
At Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola on Friday, Elliott and the Aaron’s crew struggled with a poorly handling car from the time they unloaded it. Still, he was able to improve on his practice speeds and qualify sixth for the main event.
But from the drop of the green flag, his car was a handful to drive – tight and not turning in the center of the corners and free on exit of the turns. Elliott tried different lines on the track in an effort to overcome the handling woes, but it didn’t seem to help much.
At the 50-lap break, crew chief Ricky Turner adjusted on the car, but to no avail. Elliott lost a lap to the leader Augie Grill eight laps from the checkered flag and came home with a hard-fought, eighth-place finish.
As he drove his Dream Machine to the transporter, he put the night in perspective for his dispirited crew.
“It will be alright,” he said. “We will have these nights.”
It was an entirely different story at Mobile on Saturday. Elliott and the Aaron’s Dream Machine were among the top three in practice, and Elliott qualified on the pole alongside his chief rival Augie Grill.
But a roll of the dice pit them back in seventh and eighth position for the start, with Bubba Pollard moving up to the pole.
At the drop of the green flag, Elliott worked his way around Jeff Fultz and Josh Hamner. On Lap Six he began to race with Augie Grill for position but thought better of it when he realized the frontrunners were getting away from them as they raced each other. Instead, Elliott and Grill teamed up to pass Johanna Long and then Ryan Lawler. Elliott moved into the fourth position and was fighting for third with Donnie Wilson after Grill moved around him and to the front of the pack before the halfway break.
Elliott ended the first half in fourth position.
He and the Aaron’s crew decided to leave the chassis adjustments as they were and put on two fresh tires and fuel. Their thinking was that any changes were likely to tighten the car and make it more difficult to turn.
Knowing he couldn’t afford to let Grill build too much of an advantage, Elliott went to work immediately once racing resumed. He passed Wilson on Lap 55, only to lose a spot to Fultz.
Elliott passed Pollard for third on Lap 68 and got Fultz two laps later.
Then he began tracking down Grill. Lapped traffic tended to work in Elliott’s favor, and the gap was at 20 carlengths when the caution flag flew on Lap 95 for a spin into the wall by Dale Little.
After the restart, Elliott began working Grill on the high side and then the low side but to no avail. On Lap 98, Elliott pulled up to Grill’s quarter panel coming into Turn Two but Grill held on.
On the white-flag lap, Elliott pulled as close to the rear spoiler of Grill’s car as he could and took the air off going into Turn Four. Grill got loose as he exited the corner and Elliott, never losing any forward momentum, shot to the high side and put a nose out in front of Grill coming to the checkered flag as the Mobile crowd cheered the dramatic finish.
Elliott was ecstatic at the thought of having beaten one of the toughest short trackers in the South.
“Thank you, thank you, guys,” he radioed to his crew. “I just can’t thank all of you enough.
“That was just FUN!”
Bill Elliott, who was in Michigan driving the Wood Brother’s Ford in the Sprint Cup Series, said he couldn’t have been more proud of both of his driver development teams.
“They all overcame obstacles and stayed focused,” he said. “They pulled together and made it all work, and that is what I call teamwork.
“I couldn’t be more proud.”