Chase Elliott was one and done in his debut Chili Bowl Midget Nationals appearance, but it wasn’t for a lack of drama and entertainment as the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion accounted well for himself in the Alphabet Soup.
Elliott started at the tail end of the F-Main but missed out on advancing into the E-Main by two spots.
The 25-year-old only started at the tail end of the F as opposed to the front as a result of spinning out of his Wednesday preliminary B-Main from inside the top-five.
But even after that happened on Wednesday, he restarted at the tail end but still finished eighth, proving he had learned to pass and that advanced him closer to the main event for the start of his Saturday afternoon.
Elliott rolled the bottom for the first half of the F-Main but hadn’t made much ground until a lap 7 restart when he decided to rip the top and began passing with authority. He had a shot at the transfer spot out of the final corner but just ran out of time.
“I wish I was doing more of doing more of that earlier in the week,” Elliott said. “Before the end of the B-Main on Wednesday and before the end of that race, I just couldn’t put laps together well enough to get close to someone and not crash them.
“Once I got the confidence in understanding the momentum, when I had it and when I didn’t, and started seeing things and anticipating where guys were, that’s when it got to be a lot of fun.”
Elliott just ran out of time once he got into a rhythm as his Paul May prepared was capable of making a deeper run if he had more experience.
Does Elliott wish he had started on the pole of the G instead of the back of the F to potentially get more seat time?
“I don’t think so,” Elliott said. “It would have been nice to race twice, but I don’t think I would have learned a lot running up front. Who knows. That’s a loaded question because I don’t know how the race would have played out.
“I was able to pass a lot of cars and get some runs going and had a chance at a transfer. That was a lot of fun and gives me a mark to be better for next time. “
And there will be a next time.
Elliott said on Wednesday that he did not envision this as a one-off appearance in the most popular dirt race in the world.
“I would love to come back and do more of this kind of racing and not necessarily at the Chili Bowl,” Elliott said. “The guys who are really good at this don’t just show up at the Chili Bowl. They race all year long and they get in these cars as much as they can.
“That’s what you need to do to be competitive and put in the right amount of effort. If I’m going to do this like I have aspirations to, I’m going to put the right amount of effort and learn the right way, because that’s racing.”
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