OK, now Chase Elliott simply isn’t playing well with others.
Even when he errs (or at least when he believes he errs) — Elliott still gets to stand on the doorframe of his No. 9 late model with a 1,000-watt smile and celebrate with a fist pump and a lengthy exhale.
Those that continue to watch the young prince of Five Flags Speedway promenade his way around the famed half-mile oval so smoothly and effortlessly are running out of superlatives to describe Elliott’s accomplishments.
The 18 year old from Dawsonville, Ga., and offspring of NASCAR icon “Million Dollar” Bill Elliott, rewrote the record books Friday with another Snowflake 100 victory.
“I thought I made a mistake,” admitted the younger Elliott, who has yet to lose in his Pro Late Model ride this year. “I didn’t expect the race to go green as long as it did. Fortunately, we had enough tires and the setup was there.”
Elliott became the first driver in Snowflake 100 history to hoist three checkered flags and to win in back-to-back years.
He led a total of 17 laps Saturday, pulling away from John Hunter Nemechek on Lap 94.
“It means a lot,” Elliott said of the running tally. “Again, it shows the quality of the guys around me. It’s been five years of late model racing and you don’t see a single new face in our crew, and I think that says a lot.”
Nemechek, yet another son to one of NASCAR’s more popular personalities (Joe Nemechek), led 31 revolutions before becoming an Elliott victim.
Pensacola’s Johanna Long came home 15th.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” said Nemechek, who made the Snowflake 100 his first career PLM race. “We went too early and Chase waited to go hard. I messed up a bit there at the end.”
Earlier in the race, it was Elliott questioning decisions.
Starting on the pole after collecting his second track record (16.303) of the weekend, Elliott slipped out of the top five 25 laps into the race.
“I would’ve gone about it in a different way, and not given up so much track position,” he said. “It was almost too much.”
Justin South, who eventually finished third, took kindly to the clean air and led 52 laps before drivers began jockeying for the lead.
One of those was Elliott, who timed his move exactly at the halfway point. He began stalking Augie Grill around Lap 50 to climb back to fifth.
Then he picked off Hunter Robbins, the youngest ’Flake champion a few years back. Next Mike Garvey, whose resume hypnotizes with NASCAR seat time, crumbled under the intense pressure.
Elliott was on the prowl and put South squarely in the crosshairs. He had vaulted to second by Lap 74.
Elliott had just one car left to wedge into his vice.
The 16-year-old Nemechek courageously minded the gap for a moment, but became the final domino to fall down the stretch.
Elliott has now won either a ’Flake (2010, 2012, 2013) or Derby title (2011) the last four Decembers in Pensacola.
Today, he’ll attempt to become the first driver on short-track’s most prestigious and historic weekend to win the ’Flake and the Snowball Derby when the 46th edition of the revered Super Late Model race is run at 2 this afternoon.
“Well, we’re obviously gonna give it our absolute best effort,” Elliott said. “Our goal this weekend was to get both of ’em, and fortunately we were able to get the job done (Saturday). But we still have a big job to do (today).
“I’m confident about it, but at the same time there’s a lotta good cars down here. You don’t wanna be overconfident, but I definitely think we can get the job done if everybody does their job to the best of their abilities.”
If you’re his rivals, how do you solve the 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that is Chase Elliott?
He’s holding all the corner pieces.Chuck Corder
Pensacola News Journal