Chase Elliott has won many titles so far in his young career.
On Wednesday night, he earned another – “King of the Short Tracks”.
Elliott dominated the 29th annual World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, GA, to come away with the victory in the storied short track event.
In the closing laps, Elliott had to hold off two other hungry Georgia drivers, Senoia, GA’s Bubba Pollard and Unadilla, GA’s David Ragan.
The win not only gave Elliott another trophy for his shelf, and a crown to wear in victory lane, but it also meant that since he swept all three segments of the 300 lap event, he pockets a cool $20,000 prize.
“We just had a really good car tonight,” said Elliott in victory lane. “Everyone has been working really hard on these cars this year, and I feel like our cars get better and better.”
Elliott started off his night from the pole, making him only the second driver to win the storied event from the pole. Fredrick Moore was the other driver to do so, back in 2004.
Elliott would put his front row starting position to good use early, jumping out to an early lead, with Stephen Nasse, T.J. Reaid and David Ragan giving chase.
Reaid would see his lap end early, as he slowed with mechanical issues just 10 laps in.
Two laps later, the first caution of the night flew when Dalton Grindle made hard contact with the turn two wall. Grindle was uninjured, but his night was over.
Meanwhile, Nasse would slow on the backstretch. It would be the beginning of a long night for Nasse, who spent the rest of the race on and off pit road.
On the restart, Elliott jumped back out front, with Ragan and Benjamin behind him.
Benjamin would move to second on lap 27, with Kenzie Ruston bumping Ragan back to fourth two laps later.
Meanwhile, four-time World Crown champion Paul Kelley was on the charge after starting shotgun on the field after a power steering belt came off in qualifying. Pollard was also making up ground, moving through the field.
Green flag – Elliott back to the lead, Ragan to second, Benjamin to third.
The second caution of the night came on lap 68, when David Odell backed his car into the wall just off of the second turn.
When racing resumed, it was Elliott back to the lead, with Benjamin in second and Mike Garvey moving to third place.
The yellow flag would wave again on lap 75, when Brady Boswell, Ragan, and Rodney Benefield tangled off the fourth turn, sending all three spinning. All three were able to drive away.
Elliott would again jump out to a sizeable lead on the restart, with Casey Smith in second and Benjamin in third.
Jimmy Henderson would spin off the front bumper of Brandon Jones on lap 107, drawing another caution. The slowed pace sent Elliott, Pollard and several other leaders to the pits, and put Garvey on the point for the restart.
The race had barely gotten going again when Eric Jones made hard contact with the turn four wall after Mason Mitchell spun in front of him. Jones was alright, but his night was over.
Garvey had the race lead on the restart, but jumped the flag, drawing the black flag. That handed the lead over to Smith, with Ryan Blaney in second, and Kelley giving chase in third.
But it didn’t take long for Elliott to regain the ground lost with his pit stop. On lap 120, he made his way around both Kelley and Blaney to move to second. Eleven laps later, Elliott powered around Smith for the top spot.
The caution would come out on lap 147, three laps away from the end of the first segment, when Ross Kenseth’s car stalled on pit road.
Elliott would again take the lead on the restart, but it was short lived as Smith’s night ended with a blown engine, drawing another caution.
Elliott would go unchallenged the rest of the way, scoring the first segment win and a $4,000 pay day.
For the start of the second segment, race officials announced a 14 car inversion for the front runners, putting Mason Mitchell in the lead, while Elliott would restart 14th.
Mitchell’s lead lasted only two laps before Kyle Benjamin slid past to take the top spot. He would hold it for much of the 100-lap second segment.
Meanwhile, Ragan, Elliott, Pollard, and Kelley were all picking their way through the field, working to regain positions lost in the invert.
The caution would fly again on lap 224 for debris, tightening up the field. Elliott, Blaney, Kelley and Austin Theriault all took to pit road for tires, while Benjamin, Pollard, and Ragan stayed out.
The restart was jumbled due to several cars being out of place, but it gave Elliott an open opportunity to make up a ton of track position, and two laps later, the Aaron’s Dream Machine would power back to the lead. He would stay there to lap 250, the end of the second segment, where he collected another $6,000.
With the event rules stating that only cars on the lead lap would transfer to the final 50 lap segment, the field was whittled down to just 12 cars.
Several teams again took the opportunity to pit, including Kelley and Ragan. However, several of those teams pitted before pit road was open, moving them back in the running order.
Elliott and Benjamin pitted once pit road was open. That handed the lead to Ryan Blaney.
It only took Elliott four laps to move from third to the lead, as he powered past Blaney for the top spot.
Blaney would see his night come to an end with a blown engine and a spin on the backstretch on lap 266.
Elliott would again retake the lead on the restart, with Benjamin in second, while Kelley and Pollard battled for third.
Elliott would remain the dominant car as the laps wound down.
A hard crash on lap 288 that was triggered when Kelley and Benjamin spun in turn two, collecting Clay Alexander and Cale Gale, would bring out the red flag to allow track workers to clean up fluids on the track. Alexander’s night was over, with everyone else able to drive away.
When the race resumed, it was Elliott jumping out front, and driving away for the victory. Pollard moved to second, while Ragan drove his way to third.
The win meant another $10,000 paycheck, totaling $20,000 for the win.
“We’re going to put it back in these race cars and see if we can make them even faster,” said Elliott of his earnings.
“We didn’t have a second place car tonight, but we caught a few breaks,” said Pollard after the race. “I don’t like running second, but I’ll run second to (Elliott). He’s a good little racecar driver.”
“I think we worked as hard as anyone tonight,” said Ragan. “I was glad to bring it home here with a top-three finish.”
For Elliott, the win means continued dominance at Gresham in Late Models, as he swept the previous Pro Late Model and Super Late Model shows.
But more importantly, he adds his name to the list of drivers, including Dick Trickle, Ronnie Sanders, and Darrell Waltrip, who earned the title “King of the Short Tracks.”
Gresham Motorsports Park – Jefferson, GA
World Crown 300 – July 4, 2012
1. Chase Elliott
2. Bubba Pollard
3. David Ragan
4. Austin Theriault
5. Cale Gale
6. Mason Mitchell
7. Matt Tifft
8. Paul Kelley
9. Kyle Benjamin
10. Clay Alexander
11. Ryan Blaney
12. Brady Boswell
13. Ross Kenseth
14. Mike Garvey
15. Rodney Benefield
16. Jimmy Henderson
17. Donnie Wilson
18. Casey Smith
19. Brandon Jones
20. Kenzie Ruston
21. Erik Jones
22. David Odell
23. Spencer Davis
24. Stephen Nasse
25. Max Gresham
26. Dalton Grindle
27. Allen Karnes
28. T.J. Reaid