DATE: 3/17/2012
EVENT: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
TRACK: Bristol Motor Speedway
START: 10th
FINISH:  10th
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Chase Elliott overcame being spun late in Saturday’s season-opening NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at Bristol Motor Speedway and drove the No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet to a 10th-place finish. During the race, Elliott also achieved a K&N Pro Series career first by leading a total of 40 laps.
Elliott started the race 10th, and within 10 laps, he improved to fifth. When the first caution flag waved on Lap 14, Elliott reported to his Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet team that the No. 9 Chevrolet’s handling was neutral. When the race resumed at Lap 19, Elliott was fourth, but quickly gained two positions on that lap to run second.
The race saw its second caution 10 laps later, and on the Lap 36 restart, Elliott took the lead from the eventual race winner Nelson Piquet Jr. The 16-year-old maintained the lead and at Lap 69, the mandatory pit stop break occurred. Crew chief Lance McGrew made the call for fuel, four tires in addition to air pressure and track bar adjustments.
When the race resumed at Lap 69, Elliott was still up front and leading the pack. Six laps later, Ryan Blaney in the No. 10 car was attempting to pass Elliott in Turn 1 when he slid up the track into Elliott, causing the No. 9 Chevrolet to spin. Elliott was able to save his Chevrolet from hitting the wall so the damage received didn’t hinder him from being able to drive it. During the ensuing caution period, Elliott stayed out and was 22nd at the restart on Lap 80.
Eleven laps later, Elliott was collected in another incident that caused moderate damage to the No. 9 Chevrolet. McGrew called Elliott into the pits during this caution period to fix the right-front fender damage. The team’s quick pit stop kept Elliott on the lead lap and on the restart at Lap 97, he was 21st.
Elliott battled hard and steadily drove his way through the field. By Lap 114, he was up to 13th. When the race’s final caution came out at Lap 118, Elliott still was running 13th and reported to his team the No. 9 Chevrolet still drove well despite being involved in two accidents. On the restart at Lap 125, Elliott gained a position and was running 12th.
In the race’s green-white-checkered finish, Elliott gained two positions and crossed the finish line in the 10th position.
Next up, Elliott will drive his No. 9 Aaron’s Dream Machine/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet in two super late model events next weekend at 5 Flags (Fla.) Speedway (March 23) and Mobile International Speedway (March 24). Then, Elliott will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at Greenville Pickens (S.C.) Speedway on March 31.