Chase Elliott closes in on the current points leader of the Southern Six Pack Series, Augie Grill, after a strong third-place finish on May 23 at Hickory Motor Speedway.
The race was the third event in the six-race series that is part of the CRA Super Series, and gives Elliott momentum heading into the next race, on July 17 at Elliott’s home track, Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson.
At Hickory, one of NASCAR’s most storied short tracks, Elliott qualified and started the race in the sixth position.
At the drop of the green flag he was trapped on the top side of the track, while a train of heavy hitters including the 51 of T.J. Reaid in the Kyle Busch Motorsports late model and the 67 of Jeff Fultz passed him for positions.
Elliott was finally cleared low by his spotter on Lap Nine and settled back into the 11th position.
When the first caution of the day came out on Lap 20 Elliott told his crew: “I’m just riding here guys. I didn’t mean to fall this far back, but now that we’re here let’s just make the best of it.”
And that’s exactly what he and his Aaron’s Dream Machine did.
One-by-one, Elliott improved his positions, and by Lap 46 he was passing Reaid back for the seventh place. Elliott maintained seventh place until another caution on Lap 63.
Spotter Bill Elliott asked his son: “How’s your hot rod?”
“Pretty good. When I was running the same pace as the leader [Ryan Blaney] I felt like it was too hard on the tires, so I am going to just log laps for a while,” Chase Elliott said.
Hearing this, Elliott’s crew chief Ricky Turner had other ideas, telling his driver: “Chase, you are not going to wear out those tires. Yes it is hot, oily and getting even slicker, but it is going to be hard to pass.”
Heeding Turner’s advice, Elliott went to work on the sixth-place driver Tim Brown, a seasoned Modified veteran and champion.
For the next 40 laps, Elliott worked Brown until Brown blew a tire sending him into the wall on Lap 110.
Elliott restarted in the sixth position and was working on the No. 66 car of Daniel Hemrick, while the No. 112 of Augie Grill and the No. 15 of Colt James were racing hard for position and eventually wrecked bringing out the last caution of the day on Lap 137. That moved Elliott into the fourth position.
At the drop of the final green flag it was the No. 10 of Ryan Blaney, the 67 of Jeff Fultz the 66 of Daniel Hemrick and Elliott for the top four positions. Elliott raced hard for the last 14 laps and finally passed Hemrick on the final lap for the third position and was given the “AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race” award.
Afterward, Elliott thanked his team members for a great car.
“Thanks guys, you gave me a great piece today,” he said. “I just got too far behind to catch back up.”