14-Year-Old Georgia Racer Puts His Name in the Record Books 14 Years after Last Major Event at the Historic North Carolina Track
The PASS South Super Late Models headed to the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, for “The Labor Day Classic 200” event at the track on Saturday, September 4th, 2010 – the first major racing event at the facility since Jeff Gordon won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series back in 1996. After Andy Loden set a new track record during qualifying 14-year-old Chase Elliott, son of legendary NASCAR racer Bill Elliott, drove his #9 machine to victory lane as the first major touring series winner in the past 14 years at the track, a place where his father ran strong but never claimed a victory.
“This is pretty cool,” said Chase Elliott in victory lane. “For them (his father’s NASCAR race team) to not get a win here was big because they dominated back in those years. It is really cool to be a part of the names that won here.”
The PASS Super Late Models made their way to the track for qualifying on the 0.625 mile facility under a warm North Carolina sun. Going out eighth in line, Loden broke the track record set on April 17th, 1994 by Ernie Irvan with a lap of 18.815 seconds.
“It’s awesome,” said Loden after qualifying. “The track is in really good shape. I am just glad to be here. Tom Mayberry (PASS President) has done a really good job putting this thing together and I am really glad we got this thing going here at North Wilkesboro after 14 years.”
After the top-10 redraw fifth-place qualifier Kenzie Ruston was to start on the outside pole alongside ninth-place qualifier Jody Lavender, but a problem with her car sent her to the pits before the green flag dropped, moving fourth-place qualifier Devin Jones to the outside front row. When the green flag dropped, Lavender took off and led early with Jones and Ryan Blaney in tow. The driver on the move in the early laps of the race was Elliott, who moved into the fourth spot from ninth before lap 25.
The first yellow flag flew on lap 34 for a heavy amount of fluids on the race track, which came out from underneath of Trey Mitchell’s #47 machine. Mitchell spun in his own fluids in turn two with Samantha Vannoy also going around on the slick track, but both were able to keep their cars out of the wall. Vannoy was able to continue, but Mitchell headed to the garage.
On the restart, Lavender was able to maintain the lead with Jones in second, followed by Blaney, Elliott and Loden.
The second yellow flag flew on lap 36, just a few laps after the first restart, when both Justin Allison and Joey Coulter went for a spin on the front stretch. They were both able to get their cars turned around and tagged the rear of the field.
The following restart almost turned into a disaster for the entire field as Blaney appeared to have missed a shift coming up to speed. The field scattered down the front stretch with cars diving for a spot to go. Blaney was able to get back up to speed, but lost multiple positions in the process.
At the 50-lap mark Lavender continued to pace the field with Jones, Elliott, Loden and Blaney running in the top-five positions. Over the following 30 laps the battle was for second position as Elliott tried everything he could to get around Jones for the spot. Elliott was able to finally get around Jones, putting him into the second spot before the halfway mark. Loden was also able to work his way around Jones for third with Jones and Blaney rounding out the top five at the crossed flags with only 10 cars on the lead lap.
Over the next 28 laps Elliott worked his way to the back bumper of Lavender and multiple times pulled to his inside, but backed out as he seemed content to ride in the second position.
The third yellow flag flew at lap 128 for debris, which set up pit stops for the leaders. Winning the battle off pit road was Elliott, who was followed by Lavender and Loden, but Loden had to pit once again as he left his pits with the fuel can attached to the car. Blaney, Jimmy Weller and Derek Ramstrom were penalized for pulling down too early to pit and had to restart at the tail of the field. Blaney made his way back to pit road before the restart with a problem with his car, taking him off the lead lap and out of contention for the win.
On the restart Elliott jumped out to the lead with Joey Coulter running in the second position. Lavender, Corey Williams and Jones rounded out the top-five running order with only nine cars on the lead lap. For the next 50 laps Elliott set a torrid pace out front, leaving the rest of the field in his wake.
The fourth yellow came out on lap 186 as Brandon Ward slammed the wall in turn two, doing significant damage to his #62 machine, but he was able to get out of his car and was ok.
On the restart with fewer than 15 laps remaining, Elliott and Lavender lead Jones, Coulter, Williams, Loden, Alex Fleming and Ramstrom to the green flag as the only cars on the lead lap. Lavender was able to get the jump on the outside, reclaiming the top spot, but a yellow just a few laps later for a spin in turn four by Preston Peltier reset the field once again. This time Lavender was on the inside of Elliott for the restart. Showing power at the end of the race, Elliott ran on the outside of Lavender for two laps before finally clearing him, putting himself back into the lead and into victory lane.
“Early in the race I was just there running with what the car would give me ,” said Elliott. “I didn’t want to wear the tires out and we just wanted to see what we would have for the second half of the race. The car was good, but we still need to work with it. I think everyone needs to get a race here to get the cars where we need them for when we come back. There is nothing that simulates what we do in the race.
“The restart where I lost the lead, I lost sight of the flagman. I just screwed it up. I thought I had a shot there after I got going since there were still about 15 laps to go, but then we got the second caution.”
Lavender was looking for the checkered flag first in the closing laps, but had to settle for second.
“All in all, I can’t complain,” said Lavender. “I thought I had him, but he passed me clean and got me on the high side. At the end I was spinning my tires and got sideways. I told my guys there at the end that tire conservation went out the window and I was going for the win. Unfortunately Chase was a little bit better than us in the end.”
Even though Loden wanted the win, he was satisfied with setting the track record and finishing third.
“It was a pretty good run,” said Loden. “It was a good points day for us and I know we gained some. Having the track record is a bonus for being able to race here.”
Coulter and Jones rounded out the top five.
In the 50-lap Limited Late Model division feature, Jesse Little took the lead on the start of the race from pole-setter Mack Little III, but a few laps later, Mack Little took the top spot and never looked back to take the first victory of the afternoon, prior to the PASS South race. Rock Harris, Ryan Robertson, Andy Favre and Jesse Little rounded out the top five.
In the 25-lap Stadium Stock feature, Randy Freeze took the early lead from the pole without much of a challenge during the first half of the race, however, during the second half, Wayne Hill made his presence known, taking the top spot. With fewer than five laps remaining, Michael Tucker worked his way to the front and held on to win the feature. Hill, Freeze, Chuck Wall and Brandon Brendle rounded out the top five.
In the 35-lap Allison Legacy Series feature, Justin Allison led early from the pole position and looked like he was on his way to victory lane, but a torrid battle midway through the race shuffled him out of the top spot, putting Garrett Bunch in the lead. After a late-race restart, Bunch went for a ride after battling hard for the win with Gus Dean, receiving damage, taking him out of the chance for the victory. Dean was able to take the green flag with just a few laps to go, holding on to win the event. Allison, Tyler Hill, Jantzen Stirewalt and Quinn Fowler rounded out the top five.
Round four of the five race PASS National Championship series gets the green on Sunday September 12th at Scarborough Maine’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. The PASS 400 weekend will see qualifying take place on Saturday September 11.
The PASS South Super Late Model Series will be back in action Saturday, September 25th, at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) for the “Over the Mountain 150.” For more information on the Pro All Stars Series, visit www.proallstarsseries.com.
Unofficial Results: PASS South Labor Day Classic 200 – North Wilkesboro (NC) Speedway – 9/3/2010
1 Chase Elliott 2 Jody Lavender 3 Andy Loden 4 Joey Coulter 5 Devin Jones 6 Alex Fleming 7 Derek Ramstrom 8 Corey Williams 9 Jimmy Weller 10 Jay Fogleman 11 Justin Allison 12 DJ Shaw 13 Heath Hindman 14 Ryan Blaney 15 Preston Peltier 16 Dean Clattenburg 17 Chris Bohlman 18 Brandon Ward 19 Tim Pinion 20 Justin Wakefield 21 John Batten 22 Trey Mitchell 23 Samantha Vannoy 24 Steven Legendre 25 Kenzie Ruston