Dawsonville, GA (April 19, 2010) – It’s a time-honored adage in racing that if you keep putting yourself in position to win, the checkered flags will soon come your way. After coming oh-so close to victories in several of his recent starts, Chase Elliott had a nearly flawless run at Gresham Motorsports Park on Saturday, scoring his first win of the season in the Monolith Companies 100 and giving Dawsonville Pool room proprietor Gordon Pirkle a chance to sound his familiar siren.
“We just had a really good car start to finish,” Elliott said. “We were a little loose at the beginning of the race, but as the tires came in, it tightened up, and this thing was awesome.”
The 14-year-old Dawsonville native had to wait until after school on Friday to practice in his No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine, but he soon put his Ford Blue Oval engine to work and qualified second, right behind his Bill Elliott Racing teammate Casey Roderick. There speeds were a mere three-one-thousandth’s of a second different, with Roderick touring the track in 16.485 seconds, while Elliott timed in at 16.488.
While Roderick put himself back in sixth position for the start with an unlucky draw, Elliott fared much better and lined up on the pole for the start of the 100-lap run. Elliott punched the gas on the start but go loose off of Turn Four allowing Dwayne Buggay to take over the lead and leaving Elliott to battle Beau Slocumb for second place.
After the first caution period at Lap 15, Elliott challenged Buggay on the restart, moving around him on the outside to take the lead. Meanwhile T.J. Reaid took over second position and was working to track down Elliott, who was now .617 seconds ahead of the field. While the action was heating up for positions two through five, Elliott managed a 1.367-second lead. The caution flag flew again on Lap 34 for a spin by Joel Anderson.
Elliott held the lead on the restart, and when flagman Waylon Nicholson showed the crossed flags for the halfway mark, Elliott had an advantage of .868 seconds on Reaid.
On Lap 57 the red flag was displayed for a wreck by Buggay; this set up a restart with the two Bill Elliott Racing drivers in the top two positions.
Gresham’s largest crowd of the season included the Pool Room’s Pirkle, a familiar figure in Georgia racing circles. At that point, Pirkle vowed to treat the residents of Dawsonville to the customary celebration any time a native son wins a major race.
“The siren on top of the Pool Room is ready to go if Chase can make it happen here tonight,” Pirkle said.
Elliott moved out front on the restart, but Roderick challenged and the duo raced side-by-side coming out of Turn Four before Elliott emerged with a clear advantage.
On lap 65, Roderick and Reaid wrecked while racing for the runner-up spot, bringing out the red flag once again. The restart put Slocumb on the outside of Elliott. Slocumb pulled ahead of Elliott and made the position stick until the caution came out.
With 33 laps to go, Elliott and Slocumb slugged it out for the top position, but track officials black-flagged Slocumb for jumping the start, and Elliott led the rest of the way to get the victory.
But after his recent late-race letdowns, he didn’t start celebrating until the checkered flag was safely in hand.
“You never know,” he said. “You just can’t be out front and know you are going to win. You just have to try as hard as you can every lap.”
“It feels great to win. I am especially thankful to my crew and [crew chief] Ricky [Turner] for helping me get here.”