DAWSONVILLE, Ga. (May 31, 2010) – Chase Elliott was going to be happy with his strong run on Friday at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., even if he didn’t win the race. But thanks to a strong surge in the closing laps, he got the win as well, and in doing so became the youngest driver ever to win a Super Late Model feature at the famed short track.
“I was going to be happy that we ran so well tonight regardless,” said Elliott. “That was what was important to me because come Derby time that’s what’s going to matter.” Derby time comes in December when Five Flags hosts the 42nd annual Snowball Derby, the nation’s most prestigious asphalt short track race.
Elliott showed Friday that he can be counted among the contenders in December. He qualified fourth and started fourth for the running of the second Blizzard series race of the season and took over the third position from veteran Mike Garvey before the first lap was posted on the board. Elliott ran third behind leader Bubba Pollard and second place Johanna Long while holding off attempts from Augie Grill in the fourth position.
Elliott passed Long for the second position on Lap 42 and took the lead from Pollard on Lap 50. From there Elliott stretched his lead to 10 car lengths before the caution flag waved on Lap 72, and he brought the field down pit road for two-tire pit stops.
Trouble during the pit stop caused the Aaron’s Dream Machine to come back out onto the track in the third position behind Long and Josh Hamner.
The setback only served to motivate the young driver.
“The 51 [Hamner’s] guys had a heckuva stop,” Elliott said. “When you come in with the lead and go out third, you definitely come out focused.”
Elliott stayed on the bumper of Long until lap 81 when the defending Blizzard champion got sideways and Elliott took the second position. He then set out in pursuit of the leader, passing Hamner for the top spot on Lap 86.
He led the remainder of the way to get his first Five Flags victory.
“This is an awesome feeling to win a race here in Pensacola,” Elliott said in Victory Lane. “We ran well here he last time, and I spun my tires on the last restart. I am just really proud of all the guys and how much of an improvement we have made since our first race here last year.”