It looked like he was going to cruise to his sixth career SpeedFest win, but a flat tire on the restart of the second 100-lap segment sent the 19-year-old driver to the rear of the pack.
"Our biggest concern was having an old right-side tire on the thing," Elliott said. "Having a tire go flat right at the beginning of that second half was the worst possible time for it to go flat, especially on the right side."
The team changed the car’s right front tire, and Elliott went to work, keeping his nose clean and passing cars until he was in third with four laps to go.
That’s when John Hunter Nemechek, who was running second, made contact with leader Bubba Pollard. The contact sent Pollard around and Nemechek to the lead as the caution flag flew. During the caution, Nemechek was penalized for the contact and had to restart in the rear along with Pollard.
Elliott held the lead after a restart and beat out Kyle Grissom and David Ragan for the win. Harrison Burton and Scotty Ellis rounded out the top five, while Pollard and Nemechek finished ninth and tenth, respectively.
"I’ve been on both ends of that," Elliott said. "It’s no fun to be in that situation. I don’t think John Hunter wrecked him on purpose. I think he was racing hard and probably just got in there a little hot or whatever. That’s just hard racing and the rule’s the rule. It could have gone either way I feel like. I don’t want to make any excuses. I would have much rather beat them straight up."
Ragan still looking for first SpeedFest win
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan finished third in Sunday’s Super Late Model race, which means he’ll have to wait another year to try to win a SpeedFest race at what’s considered his home short track.
"I have a lot of fun doing this, but we want to win some of these things," Ragan said. "We want to take some some trophies home, but great crowd here at Watermelon Capital Speedway, kind of a warmup for Daytona and we had a good time."
Nemechek holds off Pollard in Pro Late Model race
John Hunter Nemechek took the checkered flag in the 125-lap Pro Late Model race Sunday afternoon, holding off Bubba Pollard and Harrison Burton for his second straight SpeedFest PLM win.
Nemechek had the fastest qualifying time but started tenth after a ten-spot inversion. He quickly drove to the front, battling Pollard and Burton for the lead before passing Pollard for good with 15 laps to go. Chris Dilbeck and Korey Ruble finished fourth and fifth, respectively.