NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott traded in his usual work suit for a different kind this week as the Dawsonville, Georgia native participated in his first Chili Bowl Nationals heat race. He was joined at the event by fellow drivers Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman and Chase Briscoe.
Elliott won the first heat on Monday from the pole, his first-ever win in his second outing at the Nationals. Still, he felt there were some areas he could have improved on.
Asked whether there was anything new he learned from the race, Elliott said it "was nice to be able to go and get back in" it and added that on his way to victory "I kind of missed the bottom...I was expecting someone to be there."
On the topic of qualifying for the next race and if he'd be able to do so successfully, Elliott replied, "I hope so. It was hard to tell where othe otherguys were running."
Described as the "biggest Midget race of the year" by NASCAR and often called the "Super Bowl of midget racing" by everyone else, the Tulsa, Oklahoma-centered Chili Bowl Nationals got their start in 1987 by co-founders Lanny Edwards and Emmett Hahn; the inaugural event was sponsored by a company called the "Chili Bowl", and the name stuck.
While the first race in 1987 had 52 cars spread out over events that lasted two days, the current format sees almost seven times the number of cars on the track over five qualifying days, starting on a Monday with the main event occurring at the end of the week on a Saturday.
Chase Elliott's first Chili Bowl Nationals
In his first Chili Bowl last year, Elliot ran well and ultimately finished seventh. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for him to keep going as he would have needed to finish at least fifth to advance. Even so, the fact that he did and even managed to pass almost everyone in his race speaks of his skill as a driver, no matter what he races in.