At 15 years old, Chase Elliott proved that no obstacle would stand between him and the victory in the Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida Saturday night.
Elliott was the Snowflake standout after leading Saturday’s final practice session and laying down the second fastest lap (16.913 seconds) in qualifying time trials. It was only after qualifying that the No. 9 machine would really have to go to work.
During the post-qualifying technical inspection, officials found that the left front fender of the Elliott’s Pro Late Model did not meet requirements, nullifying Elliott’s second-fastest qualifying time.
“We actually qualified really well, so I was disappointed we didn’t get to start up front because we had a minor tech infraction,” said Elliott.
With his qualifying time thrown out Elliott lined up ninth for the first of two last chance race with some hesitation.
“There’s a lot of chances to tear your car up starting deep in the field like that, so even just go to the last chance race was something we were afraid of because we didn’t want to tear our car up.”
Despite his concerns, the No. 9 made the pass for the lead on lap nine of 25 and secured the 31st starting spot for the main event.
“Everything happens for a reason,” said Elliott. “We were meant to be thrown out and we were meant to come through and win it, I guess.”
When he took the grid for the Snowflake, Elliott knew he had the car, but it was just a matter of moving through the field in the 100 green-flag-lap race. With just two cautions and one red flag, the event was heavy with green flag action and Elliott took full advantage of it.
“I thought we’d have more caution laps than what it did, for sure,” said Elliott when asked about the green flag conditions. “We had some long green flag runs, but I thought even if there were a few more cautions we’d be alright.”
Just past the halfway point, at lap 54, Elliott moved into the top 10 and made his campaign for the lead. In 32 laps, Elliott had managed to pick off each of the nine cars in front of him and surge past the No. 18 machine of Bubba Pollard for the lead.
“I didn’t realize that Bubba (Pollard) was the leader until I asked,” commented Elliott about his pass for the lead. “It was pretty cool to find out he was the leader and I was just going to be happy with a top-10 after where we started.”
At lap 100, Elliott blazed the trail to the checkers for the field. When he made it to Victory Lane, the 15-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia native was sure to reflect on his hard fought battle.
“It means a lot,” said Elliot of his win. “This just shows how hard everybody works. We struggled, but we worked on it in practice and got it pretty close. We had a good qualifying effort, but had to start at the rear of the consi race and won that, then started at the back of the race and won that.”
For more information on the 43rd Annual Snowball Derby, contact Five Flags Speedway by calling (850) 944-8400 and be sure to visit www.snowballderby.com and www.fiveflagsspeedway.com.