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Elliott starts season with top-10 finish at superspeedway

Young driver ready for first career Nationwide start

POSTED: February 18, 2014 4:07 p.m.
For the Dawson Community News/

Driving the No. 9 Chevy, Chase Elliott started the 2014 season with a top-10 at Daytona in Saturday’s ARCA race amid accusations that he caused a massive pile-up on lap 13 of the race. Elliott contends he did not tap Buster Graham, the driver of the No. 99 Ford. Elliott will make his first Nationwide Series start Saturday in Daytona.

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Saturday's ARCA race run at Daytona didn't go as well as Chase Elliott had hoped, but the 18-year-old from Dawsonville will take what he learned at the famed superspeedway as he prepares for his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut this weekend.

"I hate that we couldn't get a better finish. I thought we had a really good shot to get the win in the last restart, but we didn't have any help right there once we got going," he said after the race.

After running near the front for most of the 80-lap race, Elliott finished ninth in the season opener. He was five spots ahead of pole-sitter Dylan Kwasniewski, also 18.

Both drivers were required to compete in the ARCA race to show they could handle the speeds and high banking at Daytona International Speedway before getting clearance to run in the Nationwide Series.

A massive pile-up on lap 13 that driver Buster Graham blamed on Elliott sparked additional discussion about young drivers racing at the higher level.

Driving the No. 9 Hendricks Motorsports prepared Chevy, Elliott contends he did not tap Graham.

The disagreement carried over from the track and officers were called to intervene when a member of Graham's crew was allegedly seen waving a bat and belted out profanities at Elliott's team.

Elliott's team said they will not dwell on the incident. Instead they'll look forward to focusing on Nationwide, staying positive and learning from the experiences of the ARAC race.

On Sunday, the sanctioning body gave Elliott and Kwasniewski the green light to compete in the season opener at the speedway.

"It's a different type of racing really than what I've always been used to," Elliott said. "You are so dependent upon the guy behind you it's hard to make a move. You just have to have help so it's hard to go anywhere."

Lining up fifth to start the race, Elliott climbed as high as second and finished ninth on the lead lap. Grant Enfinger took the checkered flag.

"I just want to thank, NAPA Brakes and everybody out there that supported us this weekend," Elliott said.

Elliott will make his first career Nationwide Series start Saturday, driving the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. He plans to contend for the 2014 Rookie of the Year honors this season.

A viewing party will be held at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Saturday. The race starts at 1:15 p.m.



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