MARNE, Mich. – Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet, overcame being four laps down to lead 14 laps and finish seventh in the ARCA Racing Series event at Berlin Raceway on Aug. 11. This is Elliott’s fourth top-10 finish in just four career ARCA starts.
“It was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had to finish seventh,” Elliott said. “On that first run, we just got extremely tight and wore the right front (tire) down to the cords. We all just thought we were done. We came in and (crew chief) Lance (McGrew) said, ‘Throw on four,’ so we threw on four tires and went back out and our Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevy made up three laps under green.
“I don’t really know how, or whatever. It was a lot of fun. I appreciate everybody not giving up on me. It was looking like it would be an ugly night. We didn’t even get a top-five finish but I feel like I’m pleased with the way everything went and the effort by everybody.”
Elliott started the race in the 10th position, and by Lap 20, he had worked his way up to sixth and was keeping good pace with the cars racing in front of him. However, then-leader Frank Kimmel began to lap the field, including Elliott on Lap 69, leaving just seven of the 29 starting cars on the lead lap. Elliott was running eighth when he was passed by Kimmel.
At Lap 93 and still under green-flag conditions, crew chief Lance McGrew called Elliott into the pits for four tires and a wedge adjustment to set in motion the team’s pit strategy. Based on the series, all teams had a total of six tires to use during the race, not including the four each driver started the event with. The Dawsonville, Ga., native returned to the field four laps down and running 17th.
Elliott maintained his composure and demonstrated his driving prowess as he worked his way through the field to get back on the lead lap under green flag racing that lasted 160 laps. The 16-year-old driver passed Kimmel several times and moved onto the lead lap by Lap 146.
Just four cars were on the lead lap with 50 to go, and Elliott was the one charging the hardest. He slipped into second place on Lap 155 and again passed Kimmel for the lead on Lap 159. Just as Lap 161 started, a car spun on the frontstretch to bring out the race’s first caution period with Elliott having made a substantial comeback to take the first position.
During this caution period, Elliott came in for two tires and when the race resumed on Lap 170, Elliott was leading Erik Jones, Kimmel, Mason Mitchell, and Chris Buescher. Elliott and Jones had only taken two tires, while Kimmel had taken four. Elliott maintained the lead for the first several green-flag laps, and was passed by Jones on Lap 173.
As Elliott was battling Kimmel side-by-side for second-place, they split a lapped car high and low coming down the frontstretch. Due to unfortunate circumstances, the lapped car got into Elliott’s front door and caused moderate damage to the side of the No. 9 Chevrolet on Lap 176. This brought out the race’s second caution, and Elliott was then forced to come into the pits for repairs. The green flag waved again at Lap 181, and Elliott was fifth.
Elliott battled hard right until the end, crossing the finish line seventh on Lap 200.
Next up, Elliott will drive his No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet in the Aug. 26 ARCA Racing Series event at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wis.