It wasn’t Chase Elliott’s first win at South Alabama Speedway in Opp, AL, but his October 20 win in the Alabama Pro 125 may have been a little more special than the others.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver took the lead on lap 114 and pulled away from Korey Ruble to take the win in the season ending race. It was the same strategy that has carried him to numerous wins this year.
What made this win more special was that the field included his father, NASCAR legend Bill Elliott. The elder Elliott surprised speedway officials Saturday morning when he entered the event. It was the first time the father and son had competed against each other in a Late Model event.
Hunter Robbins set fast time in qualifying, turning a lap of 15.451 seconds. Inversion put Steven Davis on the pole with Ruble on the outside. Robbins lined up third. Davis got the jump on the start and took the lead as the field headed into turn one. Ruble fell in behind him. Ruble wasted little time taking over the point, moving inside of Davis on lap five. Robbins followed two laps later to move into second. Robbins began to pressure Ruble for the top spot, but wasn’t able to work his way around the leader.
The field settled in with some position changes in the back. Up front, Ruble led Robbins, Davis, Chase Elliott, Harrison Burton, and Bill Elliott. On lap 39, Burton made his way around Chase Elliott to move into fourth. On lap 51, Burton, the 13-year-old son of NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, moved past Davis for third. Davis’ slide continued in the next five laps as both Elliotts got by. At the halfway point, Ruble had a three car length lead over Robbins. Burton was third, a half straightaway back. The Elliott’s were running nose to tail about a half lap behind the leader.
Ruble’s lead was erased by when the caution flew on lap 75. On lap 78, Chase Elliott got around Burton to move into third. Burton and Bill Elliott battled for the fourth spot. Chase Elliott moved inside of Robbins to take second on lap 96. On lap 103, Bill Elliott got around Burton to move into fourth.
Up front, Chase Elliott was turning the pressure up. Ruble was able to thwart a couple of attempts, but on lap 113, Elliott got a good run to the inside and completed the pass the next lap. Elliott pulled ahead and led the final 12 laps to take the win. Ruble finished second, followed by Robbins, Bill Elliott, and Harrison Burton.
In the Modified Feature, Donald Crocker led all 50 laps to take the win. The front four cars ran nose to tail for the first ten laps before Billy Melvin, running fourth, fell off the pace. Cameron Henderson took Melvin’s spot at the end of the lead train. Crocker led Heath Mills, Lance Blacker, and Henderson lap after lap with nobody able to make a move. With the race going green for the distance, Crocker was eventually able to pull away from his competitors to take the win. Mills was second, followed by Blacker, Henderson, and Mario Lupi.
In the Street Stock Feature, Gary Davis led flag-to-flag to take the win. Johnny Otto chased Davis all 50 laps, but remained several car lengths back. Billy Maxie finished third with Dennis Thomas fourth and Adam Salter fifth. The results of the Street Stock Feature remain unofficial due to questions about Davis’ and Otto’s intake manifolds. The manifolds were sent off to be checked further and the results will be made official after they are checked.
In the Roadrunner Feature, Ricky Strickland held off a charging David Daniels to take the win. Daniels almost spun with one lap to go, allowing Strickland to breathe a little easier taking the checkers. Nick Petrie was third with Dwayne Kroger fourth and Bobby Rhodes fifth.
Jonathan Johnson came from the seventh starting spot to take another win in the Coyote Feature. Lee Rogers led the first seven laps before Johnson got by. Rogers chased Johnson the rest of the way, but couldn’t mount another challenge for the lead. Danny Thompson was third, followed by Adam Missildine and Danny Monaghan.
Rob McLendon won the Motorcycle Feature over John Cohorn, Davo Majzun, Jeremy Dunn, and Main Franquez.
The evening closed out the 2013 racing season at South Alabama Speedway.
BY MARK CHISUM Raceweek Illustrated