Chase Elliott’s appearance at the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby was one of the most anticipated returns to Five Flags Speedway in a long time, if not ever. He would finish third in the event, but it didn’t come without its share of setbacks throughout the weekend.
The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion struggled to find speed during the first two days of the weekend, between a new chassis paired with the fact that it had been five years since he last strapped into a Super Late Model. He qualified 42nd, relegating him to the Last Chance Qualifier.
He and Terry Senneker would then hit on something Saturday morning during final practice, and it would change the course of the weekend. Elliott was fourth in that session, then in the Last Chance he would charge from 11th to win the 50-lapper without the aid of a caution.
“I’m proud of the effort with how Friday went, and then to come back and be in contention,” Elliott told Speed51. “I’m proud of that and I’m looking forward to next time, I don’t know when I’ll be back but it was fun today and I really enjoyed it.”
Elliott started 31st in Sunday’s Snowball Derby after his win in the Last Chance. Just like in Saturday’s preliminary, he wasted no time charging through the field. He was in the top-ten by lap 100, and would remain there the rest of the afternoon before finishing third in his first attempt in the Derby since he won it back in 2015.
“It was really solid but we needed to be a little bit better for sure. Those guys outdid us there at the end. I wish we could’ve got them at the end, I felt like they were racing each other really hard and they left me every opportunity to join the battle, I just couldn’t get there.
After working his way to the front in the opening stint, the second run saw Elliott struggle a little bit. He restarted eighth and was stuck right around that position for the duration of the tire and fuel cycle before he was able to return to pit road.
His car was one of the strongest in the field over the course of a long run. With just a five-lap dash to the checkered, he ultimately ran out of laps before he could get by Majeski and Thorn.
“It’s one of those things that if you have your car driving right you can certainly make ground. In that first run it was really good, and then after that we got off a little bit and made it a little better at times. I think we helped it between that second run on to the third, just struggled to get it going on a short run and a lot of caution laps there at the end.”
Elliott hopes to return to Super Late Model racing in the near future, but currently he has no set plans in place. He was congratulatory of race winner Ty Majeski while in post-race tech, knowing the heartbreaks the Wisconsin driver has faced in the Snowball Derby over the years.
“Congrats to Ty and his group, they’ve probably been the best I would say across the country. They’re one of the few cars that travels all around the country and he’s super competitive everywhere he goes. I’m happy for him, he’s deserved a Tom Dawson Trophy for many years, so I’m glad he has one. I’m looking forward to racing him again down the road.”
Stay tuned to Speed51 for continued coverage from the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo