SALEM, Ind. – For the most part, the tracks on the ARCA Racing Series tour are all brand new to Chase Elliott.
And the 16-year-old has proven to be a quick learner, recording a career-best second-place finish in his road course debut at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and a fourth-place result on the very challenging Salem Speedway short track back in April. In five ARCA starts so far, Elliott has not yet finished out of the top-10.
And when the son of NASCAR champion Bill Elliott returns to Salem Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 15, he’ll finally be on familiar ground.
“It’s going to help a lot,” Chase Elliott said. “I’ve thought about this a lot. We had a good time last time we were at Salem, and we’ve made a lot of improvements for when we go back. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun.”
Elliott admits the historic old short track in southern Indiana is like no other.
“I had heard so much about it, but I had no idea of what to really expect,” Elliott said. “I thought that it can’t be that bad, but I found out it’s very challenging. It’s rough and you’re busy all the time whether you’re racing someone or not.
“It reminds me of a smaller Darlington with some Winchester (Speedway) mixed in, but in reality, it just doesn’t compare to anywhere.”
Elliott also said, when it comes to Salem, he’s all for listening to advice from veterans, specifically Frank Kimmel, who’s won at Salem a record nine times.
“I’m all for listening to the guys who have a lot of experience there, guys like Frank Kimmel who have so many laps around that place,” Elliott said. “Anything Frank Kimmel says I’m going to listen to, no matter where we’re at.
“But like everywhere else, it’ll come down to how the race plays out, when you get the cautions, and being able to make good calls on the spot.”
Fortunately for Elliott, he’ll have the experience of veteran crew chief Lance McGrew calling the shots from pit road. McGrew brings to the table vast experience, having worked with some of the most recognizable drivers in stock car racing, including Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr., to name a few.
So, with one Salem race on his resume and McGrew helping steer the ship, Elliott has every reason to believe he can win.
“Absolutely,” Elliott said “I’d stay home if I didn’t think we can win. We’re going to be in a super car – the Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet – with great support from a lot of very knowledgeable people. It’s going to be a good time. I’m really looking forward to this.”
Elliott will participate in the ARCA autograph session at Salem on Sept. 15 from 4:45-5:15 p.m. local time.
Saturday night’s 200-lap ARCA Racing Series event at Salem will start at 7:15 p.m. For live timing and scoring, please visit www.arcaracing.com. For race updates, please follow Cindy Elliott on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CindyElliott9.