Chase Elliott and his Aaron’s Dream Machine crew were back on familiar Gulf Coast turf this past weekend, running a Late Model double-header at Five Flags Speedway and Mobile International Speedway, two tracks where they won championships last year.
Running on the Gulf Coast for just the second time this season, Elliott, who has been concentrating on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East circuit, defeated his old rival Augie Grill in a thriller at Five Flags on Friday night but was swept up in a crash at Mobile on Saturday.
In the opener, the fourth installment of the Blizzard Series at Five Flags in Pensacola, Elliott qualified fifth for the Rubber and Specialties 100 with the always tough Grill taking the pole.
With the invert roll of eight by Grill, Elliott started in the fourth spot but didn’t stay there long as he used the outside groove to take the lead on lap two just before the first caution of the night was displayed. Elliott maintained the lead through two or more cautions until a lap 14 restart when Grill lined up outside of Elliott for the restart.
The two rivals battled for the position over the next two laps with Grill just a nose ahead of Elliott when another caution was displayed on lap 16. After the restart, Elliott never took his focus off of Grill and stayed within five carlengths, working his line to better his position on Grill.
Grill and Elliott held the top two spots at the halfway mark, followed by David Rogers, Bubba Pollard and Grant Enfinger.
As the laps wound down, lapped traffic became more of an issue, especially since Grill and Elliott had lapped all but the top seven drivers.
With 10 laps remaining, Elliott was half a carlength behind Grill. With five to go, he had his Aaron’s Dream Machine up to Grill’s quarter panel.
The two raced door-to-door over the final three laps with Elliott gaining a small advantage as the white flag flew. He cleared Grill in turn two on the final lap.
Grill came back with a slight tap to his bumper at the checkered flag, but Elliott got the victory.
“Augie’s tough to beat down here,” Elliott said. “I’m happy to come back and run well. Coming back to the Late Models, it showed early on that we needed a little work. Hopefully, we’re back on the right track. We want to come back for the Snowball Derby and be competitive.”
Elliott also was on the right track with his fans on the Gulf Coast, and they gathered around the flagstand to help him celebrate his victory.
“I have to thank all of the fans that come out and support us here, and I want to give a special thanks to Aaron’s for their support over the last five years,” he said. “They have been great to partner with and I hope to continue that relationship for a long time.”