Cordele, Ga. – Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine Chevrolet, left Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Ga., this past weekend with a visit to Victory Lane, followed by a solid sixth-place finish.
“I’m real excited about this past weekend,” Elliott said. “I felt like we had two solid races but still left room for improvement. It was a great way to start off the year with a win not only for the team but it was also good for Aaron’s.”
Elliott earned the pole position for the first SpeedFest Pro Late Model event, but subsequently started third after the field was inverted Sunday. The 16-year-old driver consistently ran inside the top three for the majority of the 150-lap race.
On the white-flag lap, two cars spun behind Elliott in Turn 4, and he avoided the wreck when the field circled past it again on the .375-mile racetrack. Amongst the chaos on track, Elliott continued to battle the No. 1 car of Mike Garvey on the final lap and was able to maintain his first-place position when the race concluded. The Aaron’s Dream Machine team celebrated in Victory Lane, while the crowd gave Elliott one of the biggest cheers of the day.
“It sure was nice to get a win and a pole our first time out,” crew chief Ricky Turner said. “Everybody did a good job getting the cars prepared and just a great overall effort for this weekend’s events at Cordele.”
With the second race approaching its start, Elliott regained his focus and strapped himself back in to the No. 9 Chevrolet. When the green flag waved for the CRA Super Series SpeedFest 200, Elliott rolled off the grid in 11th.
In the opening laps, Elliott steadily drove through the field and was running fifth by the halfway point, when the field observed a mandatory 10-minute break for adjustments and optional tires. During this break, crew chief Turner made the call to not take tires so Elliott would lead the pack at the restart. Kyle Busch, who went on to win the second event, opted for two tires, and he lined up from the outside pole position, next to Elliott.
Elliott battled hard during the remainder of the 200-lap event, and when the checkered flag waved, he finished sixth.
“Not taking tires was the right call for us,” Elliott said. “I think just two would have made me tight, and four tires would have put us too far back to make up the distance in a Crate car.”