MARNE, Mich. – Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet, made a late-race charge to the front and battled hard to take the lead from eventual race winner Kyle Busch during the fourth annual Rowdy 251 CRA Super Series event at Berlin Raceway on June 19. When the checkered flag waved, Elliott finished second.
With his runner-up finish on Tuesday evening, Elliott now has posted three top-five results in three Rowdy 251 event starts at the .438-mile track. In 12 late model starts so far this season, Elliott has posted six wins, nine top-five finishes, 11 top 10s and also earned four pole positions.
“I didn’t have anything for Kyle,” Elliott said. “He’s probably one of the best short-track racers around, and he’s tough to beat. We’ve run decent at some places this year and then we come here and everybody gets whooped.
“Right, wrong or indifferent, I kind of stuck with what I was doing in practice, and obviously it wasn’t quite good enough. It’s disappointing, but one of these days, we are going to figure it out and beat him.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Elliott qualified fourth for the 251-lap event, but subsequently started 13th after the field was inverted. When the race started that evening, he quickly worked his way through the field and was running third by Lap 20. Elliott maintained this position until Lap 93, when Busch passed him for third. Elliott consistently ran in the fourth position as the first segment was drawing to a close.
At Lap 120, he thought his No. 9 Chevrolet’s right-front tire was going down and with only five laps to go until the break, Elliott decided to play it safe on the track. When the race’s first segment concluded, Elliott was 10th.
During this break, the Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com team made some adjustments and added four new tires to Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet. Once the race got back underway, Elliott was running 10th. After falling back to 12th, he improved three spots into seventh by Lap 165.
When a caution came out on Lap 202, the pits opened so Elliott took advantage of the optional two-tire change. After a quick two-tire pit stop, Elliott rejoined the field and was fifth when the raced resumed. He continued to work his way up to the front, and by Lap 222, Elliott was second and running behind Busch. Three laps later, Elliott cut Busch’s lead in half.
The race saw another caution at Lap 228. At the Lap 233 restart, Elliott battled hard against Busch for the lead during the next couple laps and attempted to pass him on the outside as well as on the inside, but the 16-year-old driver was not able to complete the moves. Elliott did his best to keep up with Busch, and he crossed the finish line second.
Next up, Elliott will drive his No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet in the June 23 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va.