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Elliott races to sixth-place finish

POSTED: April 10, 2013 4:00 a.m.
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Elliott

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In his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Dawsonville's Chase Elliott drove to a sixth-place finish Saturday at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

Racing against veterans like Kevin Harvick and Ron Hornday Jr., the 17-year-old rookie was among a half dozen teenagers in the field.

Elliott, who qualified eighth, said in a statement that he was "happy with our finish."

"I'm not satisfied, but I'm happy," he said. "It was a solid day. I feel like the truck had a lot more in it than that.

"With these short tracks, it's all about where you are on the restarts and it was hard to pass there at the end."

Despite handling issues that kept crew chief Lance McGrew busy during the first half of the race, Elliott gained four positions in the closing laps.

"I think if we can keep running like that, we'll be pretty close to a win soon," Elliott said.

Local race fans who gathered Saturday at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame to watch Elliott's first national start said they foresee wins for the young driver this season.

"Can you believe it, a sixth-place finish in his first NASCAR race? That's just amazing," said Gordon Pirkle, local racing historian and president of the museum. "We were all here pulling for him."

Johnny Sauter took the checkered flag at Martinsville for back-to-back victories following his win at Daytona in the season opener a week earlier.

His teammate Matt Crafton was second. Pole-sitter Jeb Burton finished third, while Timothy Peters was fourth and Darrell Wallace Jr. finished out the top five.

With two straight wins, Sauter holds a 12-point lead over Burton in the series standings.

Elliott will be back in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on Sunday when the truck series heads to Rockingham Speedway for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200. Fox Sports will broadcast the race at 2 p.m.

"This weekend should be easier for Chase, because the big boys are going to be racing in Texas ... so we won't be seeing the Sprint Cup or the Nationwide drivers in the truck race this weekend," Pirkle said.

Elliott's first victory at Rockingham Speedway was in 2010, when he claimed the Sunoco National Tour at age 14.

"Rockingham's his track. He won there in the Mustang we have out at the museum right now when he was just 14 years old," Pirkle said.

His second win on the one-mile oval came in the 2011 USAR Pro Cup.

There's also a bit of Elliott history associated with the famed North Carolina track, where Chase's father, Bill, won his final NASCAR Sprint Cup race in 2003.

The younger Elliott said he expects Sunday's race to be memorable.

"The biggest thing is that Rockingham is unique when compared to other race tracks. You can run all over it, and that's something you don't see often in racing today," he said on his Web site.

"You can run from the white line to the wall and win races running. It puts on some great shows and I think it's going to continue to do that."

Elliott's truck is among 40 entered in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 field.

"I know it's not supposed to happen for him yet, not this early in his career, but wouldn't it be something to see him win," Pirkle said.

A viewing party will be held again Sunday at the museum. The race will be shown on a 24-foot projection screen in the Gordon Pirkle Victory Lane Room.

Access is included with admission to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame museum at $4 for adults and $2 for children.

 

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