For Chase Elliott, an off-weekend on the NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule doesn’t mean a weekend off from racing. Elliott, the 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, will take advantage of the empty spot on his schedule to get back behind the wheel of his Chase Elliott Motorsports Super Late Model right in his home state of Georgia.
The Dawsonville, Georgia driver will return to Crisp Motorsports Park (formerly known as Watermelon Capital Speedway) in Cordele, Georgia for this Saturday’s Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco event. Elliott will be piloting his familiar No. 9 machine with experienced crew chief Ricky Turner calling the shots during the Lyle Farms Watermelon Festival 100 presented by PFC Brakes.
“I was excited to have a chance to get to a short track race and we had an off week this weekend so I thought this was a good opportunity to go down there,” Elliott said. “It’s close to home for me. I’m just excited to go have the chance to go run our stuff and try to make it a little better.”
Although Elliott and Turner have had loads of success at the Super Late Model level, like most racers they want to continuously improve their on-track product. The duo looked at the opportunity to race close to home as a good way to try some stuff in an attempt to improve their program for some of the crown jewel events like the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL) later in the year.
“We’re trying to make our program better because there’s always room for improvement,” Elliott stated. “Ricky and I have done a lot of talking after the past couple races to try to get better and be as well prepared as we can for the bigger races at the end of the season like Winchester and the Snowball Derby that we’d like to go run. Those races mean a lot and we’d like to really be up on our game when it comes time to go to those races. That’s why we want to have all the chances we have for me to go race these places right now to try to grow our program. Hopefully we can try out some new things this weekend to be a little closer.”
If Elliott’s track record at the 3/8-mile D-shaped oval is any indications, fans in the Peach State can expect to see the 19-year-old up front at the end of the 100-lap feature event. In six career starts at the track during the annual SpeedFest event, he has recorded four wins and six top-10 finishes. He has two wins in the Super Late Model portion of SpeedFest and two wins in the Pro Late Model portion.
According to Elliott, his success at the track has more to do with the man behind the scenes, his crew chief Ricky Turner, than the man behind the wheel.
“I really feel like it’s more of just Ricky Turner and kind of what he does behind the scenes and at the race track to be best prepared as possible when we show up,” Elliott explained. “I think he’s just done a really good job of having our race cars prepared when we get there and having them close. That goes a long way.”
Having the amount of success that Elliott and his team have experienced at Watermelon Capital Speedway made the decision to race in this weekend’s Southern Super Series event an easier one. But in addition to getting back to a track he’s had a lot of success at, a return to his home state of Georgia also gives him an opportunity to connect with fans that have supported him throughout his racing career.
“Hopefully they can draw a good crowd and it will be a good show for the folks who are there,” Elliott said. “That race track has potential to put on really good races and it has in the past. Hopefully that will be the case this weekend.”
Despite his success at Cordele, Elliott believes that picking up a win in the inaugural Southern Super Series event at the track will not be an easy feat. He knows that it will be a battle with the stars of the series including defending champion Bubba Pollard, 2013 SSS champion and current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Daniel Hemric and Casey Smith, who currently leads the way in the series point standings.
“I think on any given weekend that it can be as tough as anything,” Elliott stated. “It all depends on who shows up and who’s racing at any given point. With Bubba Pollard and Augie (Grill) racing sometimes, obviously John Hunter (Nemechek) has had some success the past couple years and Daniel Hemric is always fast in those things.
“A mixture of all of those guys and then some, there’s a lot more that I can tell you that are always fast. There’s also a lot of guys who are just getting into it that are getting where they have their stuff worked out really well, too.”
The stars of the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco will have the option to participate in an optional practice day at Watermelon Capital Speedway on Friday, June 5.
On Saturday, June 6 pit gates will open at 8 a.m. Southern Super Series practice will take place from 2:30-4:00 p.m. and qualifying will begin at 6:00 p.m. Feature racing is scheduled to begin at approximately 7 p.m.
For ticket information and more on the Lyle Farms 100 presented by PFC Brakes, visit www.crispmotorsportspark.com and www.southernsuperseries.com.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com