BRASELTON — It was a night of firsts at Lanier National Speedway on Saturday when the track hosted the Georgia Asphalt Series for the first time in 2009 and 13-year-old Chase Elliott, son of local NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, scored his first career Late Model win at his “home track” in the GAS Super Six Series 100 presented by Cornerstone Lodge.
Elliott’s Bill Elliott Racing teammate Casey Roderick started from the pole and led the first 96 laps, but Elliott was able to get a nose under the No. 19 to lead the final four laps and give his mother the perfect Mother’s Day gift.
“That was a heck of a race. I’m just so excited,” Elliott said after climbing out of his car in Victory Lane.
“The car was getting loose there at the end, and I knew I had just one chance to get around Casey and make it stick — so it had to be the right time. I set him up and got under him just enough to move him up the track and not wreck either of us. From there, I just hit my marks and took it easy until we took the checkers. I just can’t believe it — this is awesome. I can’t thank everyone enough, my mom and dad, everyone on the team and especially Aaron’s and all of our sponsors for supporting us.”
“Chase just had a better car there at the end,” Roderick said of his teammate.
Teammates Elliott and Roderick were atop the leader board from the time the GAS field hit the track. Roderick set the fastest time during the first 30-minute practice, and Elliott led the field during the second round.
During qualifying, Elliott went out fifth of 17 cars and was the first driver to qualify in the 13.9-second range. He held the pole until Roderick rolled off, the final car to clock in, and posted the only lap in the 13.8-second range with a fast lap of 13.879 seconds, bumping Elliott to second. Greg Simpson, TJ Reaid and Paul Kelley rounded out the top-five in qualifying.
After rolling a “one” to maintain his pole starting position, Roderick led the 17-car field to the green and jumped out front until a single-car spin in turns one and two brought out the first caution on lap two. On the restart, Roderick again jumped out to the lead and the top-five quickly fell into a single-file line. On lap eight, the #38 of Shane Sawyer dropped off the pace and ducked into the pits.
Around lap 15, Reaid, winner of the GAS season-opener, and Simpson battled for third before contact between the two sent Reaid spinning and into the pits for work on the #41, bringing out the second caution.
When the field took the green flag, the #15 of Zach Rearden spun in turns one and two but resumed speed and did not draw a caution. The field stacked up following the incident, and a 3-car spin collected Rearden, Dennis Wilder and John Wes Townley, bringing out the yellow and ultimately the red flag, while safety crews cleared the track. With a clean track, the race resumed on lap 20 and continued under green with no change in position among the top-four while the battles raged for fifth through eighth.
The race stayed green and most of the field ran single-file for several laps, maneuvering around lapped traffic. On lap 70, Elliott caught the back bumper of Roderick’s #19 but did not pressure him for the lead. With 20 laps to go, the #45 of Buggay cleared #29 James Nealis for seventh. Seven laps later #10 Simpson put the pressure on #23 Kelley for third, but Kelley was able to hold him off.
Roderick and Elliott ran nose-to-tail and set the pace, but on lap 95, the battle for the lead heated up. Elliott took a look inside the #19 of Roderick, but wasn’t able to get a nose under him until turn three on lap 96.
Elliott moved Roderick up the track just enough to get under him, and the #9 cleared the #19 at the start-finish line. After running second to Roderick for 96 laps, Elliott led the final four laps to record his first career Late Model victory.