Entering Saturday’s DiaEdge Carolina Midget Showdown at Millbridge Speedway, Chase Elliott had one goal: Don’t finish last.
WATCH THE CAROLINA MIDGET SHOWDOWN ON SPEED51.TV
It seems like a low bar for the reigning NASCAR Cup Series Champion, but Saturday was Elliott’s first-ever race in a Midget car on dirt.
He easily cleared that bar on Saturday, scoring finishes of third and fourth in the two feature events at the Salisbury, North Carolina facility.
He also had a lot of fun.
“I had a blast,” Elliott told Speed51. “I appreciate everybody’s help, DiaEdge, Chase [Briscoe], Paul and all the people who made this work. I’m looking forward to the Chili Bowl and trying to learn much.”
The most important lessons from Saturday came from learning how to negotiate traffic in the small but powerful race cars. A first-lap incident dropped Elliott to the rear of the field, but he raced his way onto the podium in the first feature.
“I think the biggest thing for me was understanding the racing aspect. If you are better than the guy in front of you, how do you set up a nice pass and not run over him?”
Saturday’s event provided a tune-up for Elliott’s next big Midget appearance, the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma on January 11-16.
Elliott came away with a pair of top-five finishes in his first Midget appearance, but he is far from beating his chest over the accomplishment. While Saturday’s field included defending Chili Bowl champion Kyle Larson, as well as the likes of Chase Briscoe, Cannon McIntosh and CJ Leary, Elliott knows the competition awaiting him in Tulsa will be even stiffer.
“It was okay. We still got beat by a pretty large margin. Obviously, there’s going to be a much larger percentage of guys like Kyle and Chase and those guys out in Tulsa. I don’t expect it to be very easy at all.”
The DiaEdge Carolina Midget Showdown took place less than a week following Elliott’s return to pavement Super Late Model racing in its crown jewel event, the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway. Elliott rebounded from a poor qualifying effort in that event to win the Last Chance Qualifier and finish third in the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby.
Elliott’s new NASCAR Cup Series teammate, Kyle Larson, took home the Carolina Midget Showdown championship after winning the second feature of the evening at Millbridge. Larson finished second to Chase Briscoe in the first feature of the event.
Race fans who missed Saturday’s DiaEdge Carolina Midget Showdown can click here to watch replays of the feature events.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo