OREGON, Wis. – Chase Elliott is only 16 years old, and all the while honing his short track skills in the ARCA Racing Series. The driver of the No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet will make his fifth ARCA career start this Sunday, Aug. 26 at Madison International Speedway.
A newcomer to Wisconsin’s half-mile track, Elliott will run there for the first time during Saturday’s practice session. But he looks at it as another opportunity to gain experience and strengthen his racing skills.
“We have had some decent runs in the ARCA series,” Elliott said. “We just need a little more to close the deal. I’m confident the Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet will be fast enough to win at Madison,” Elliott said. “We’re capable of winning in the ARCA series, and I won’t be satisfied until we do.”
Variety is the spice of Elliott’s racing life this season. The rising high school junior has raced in three different series that include the ARCA Racing Series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series as well as several late model events.
“Anytime you can race is a help,” Elliott said. “Whether you’re racing a dirt late model or asphalt, whatever it is, I’d much rather be racing than sitting at home. You want to just keep racing and stay in the seat as much as you can, and I think that’s only going to help.
“To go from such a light car like a late model car to a heavier car like an ARCA or K&N car is definitely different. I think that process has gotten a little bit easier racing more of both this year and getting a feel for what you need in each of them. By just racing more in all three series, it just helps that process go by a little faster and makes it easier as a driver.”
In just four ARCA career starts, Elliott already has posted four top-10 finishes — including two top-five performances. Elliott led 22 laps and finished 10th in his ARCA series debut at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway on March 10. It got better from there when Elliott placed fourth at Salem (Ind.) Speedway in April.
In his career-first road course race, he lost the lead on the final lap and took runner-up honors at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt Raceway in early July. Most recently, Elliott overcame being four laps down to lead 14 laps and finish seventh at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich., on Aug. 11.
When comparing his experience in the K&N Pro Series East to the ARCA Racing Series, Elliott recognizes their similarities as well as their differences.
“The ARCA cars are very similar to the K&N cars minus the motor — that’s a lot bigger in an ARCA car,” Elliott said. “The racetracks on the ARCA circuit, obviously, are older so you have a lot of tire management at those places. And that’s something important to learn. That’s something that you will carry all the way to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series one day if that is where you end up. Tire management is key especially at one of these old racetracks is definitely very important.”
In addition to this weekend’s event at Madison, Elliott also will compete in ARCA race at Salem Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Elliott will participate in the ARCA autograph session at Madison on Aug. 26 from 12-1 p.m. local time.
Sunday’s 200-lap ARCA Racing Series event at Madison will start at 2 p.m. For live timing and scoring, please visit www.arcaracing.com. For race weekend updates, please follow Cindy Elliott on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CindyElliott9.