RICHMOND, Va. – Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet, earned a second-place result in the nationally televised NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event April 26 at Richmond International Raceway, finishing just .011 seconds behind winner Brett Moffitt.
In a drag race to the line following a green-white-checkered finish, Elliott charged his way to front on the final lap in an attempt to earn his first K&N Pro Series East win. Elliott’s runner-up effort was the best of his K&N Pro Series East career, and he now ranks first in the 2012 championship standings.
“I’ve won them like that, and now I’ve lost them like that, too,” said Elliott, who has tallied three top-10 finishes in three K&N Pro Series East starts this season. “The plus is that we ran pretty good tonight. We started the race off, and I thought we were going to struggle, so to come back and turn it around there at the end was good for our Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com team.
“I felt like we had the car to beat there at the end, and I felt that last restart was going our way. It was a heck of a race for the fans, and that’s what matters for a live television event. That’s what the K&N Pro Series East needs.”
Elliott, 16, started the race in the 10th position and ran in the top 10 for the majority of the night. Early on, he battled a tight-handling No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet, but the car drove well out of the turns.
Crew chief Lance McGrew radioed his driver that the cars in front of him would lose grip as the track cooled. When that time came, McGrew told Elliott to take advantage and drive his way to the front. When the race reached Lap 76, Elliott was running eighth. Twelve laps later, he had worked his way into fourth.
An accident on Lap 89 brought out the red flag. On the Lap 94 restart, Elliott gained a position and moved his way into third.
The race’s final caution came out three laps later, dictating a green-white-checkered finish. On the restart at Lap 101, a three-way battle between Moffitt, Elliott and Corey LaJoie developed, and on the white-flag lap it was just Moffitt and Elliott going head-to-head to a photo finish.
The result was Elliott’s fifth top-five finish and 10th top-10 in 17 career K&N Pro Series starts.
Immediately after the K&N Pro Series East event at Richmond, Elliott raced in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, a special NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model division race that helped raise money for the Denny Hamlin Foundation.
Elliott started the 75-lap event 22nd, and on the first lap, he got caught up in a multi-car accident. The No. 9 Chevrolet received moderate damage that forced Elliott to pit so the team could fix it. Elliott rejoined the field still on the lead lap, and by Lap 19, he reported that the car drove nicely.
Elliott battled hard for the remainder of the race and steadily worked his way through the field. When the checkered flag waved at Lap 75, Elliott finished 16th.
Next up, Elliott will drive his No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet in the April 29 ARCA Racing Series event at Salem (Ind.) Speedway. After that, the team will race in the K&N Pro Series East event at Iowa Speedway on May 19.