Chase Elliott and the No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine team had a lesson in adversity during their double header weekend at Five Flags Speedway (Pensacola, Fla.) and Montgomery (Ala.) Motor Speedway.
Despite overcoming a switch to the back-up car at Five Flags and an engine change before Montgomery the next day, Elliott came home with a third and a fifth place finish.
“It was a great experience racing at both tracks,” said Elliott. “I learned a lot racing side-by-side with Augie Grill, Bubba Pollard and John Bolen over the weekend. I also learned a lot about adversity and perseverance working with the team on organizing how to make all of the changes necessary to make the race at Pensacola and then Montgomery. Now I get to work on fixing the car that I wrecked and since that was all my fault, I get to fix it. I will take this knowledge with me now onto the Winchester race this weekend. I can’t wait to get back to the high banks there.”
The team unloaded the car at legendary Five Flags Speedway, but their practice was short lived after Elliott wrecked on the first lap. The team pulled out the backup car, and — with very little practice — qualified third with a 17.16-second lap behind pole winner David Jones and second place TJ Reaid.
Elliott ran second for 76 of the 100 laps, before the motor in the Dream Machine started missing. What could have been a disastrous turn of events was lessened by the fact that Elliott and race leader Jones had pulled away from the rest of the field. Even with the motor problems, Elliott only lost two spots, one to Bubba Pollard and one to Reaid in the final laps.
Elliott crossed the finish line in fourth, but was credited with a third place finish after second place David Jones was disqualified during post-race tech. Bubba Pollard won the race and Reaid, who finished third, was moved up to second after the disqualification.
After the race at Five Flags Speedway, the Bill Elliott Racing team worked overtime on the motor and ultimately decided to change it out before heading to Montgomery for Saturday’s race.
They didn’t make much progress before the rain started falling, forcing them to load up until morning. The family of Logan Boyett, driver of the No. 11B, was kind enough to let the team come to their shop in the morning to make the engine change before heading to Montgomery.
Elliott had one start at Montgomery, but the track had been repaved since his debut. During qualifying, Elliott laid down an 18.717-second lap, only 0.007 seconds off the fastest lap of John Bolen who broke the Pro Late Model qualifying record with an 18.710-second lap. The three-car inversion moved Augie Grill to the pole, left Elliott in second and dropped Bolen to third for the start of the “Show Me the Money III.”
Elliott ran in the top-three with some of the area’s best Late Model drivers and looked to be headed for a strong finish until a cut tire on lap 85 changed the course of events.
Elliott steered the No. 9 Dream Machine down pit road and the BER team was quick to react, changing the right front tire and sending Elliott back out onto the track without losing a lap.
After restarting eleventh, Elliott drove the No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine up five positions to take sixth place at the checkered flag. Elliott again earned one position to get fifth place after post-race technical inspection and disqualifications.