CHILI BOWL NOTES: Highs & Lows For Elliott

Cory Elliott went for a wild ride Wednesday during the Chili Bowl Nationals. (Adam Mollenkopf photo)

TULSA, Okla. — Tuesday night, Cory Elliott was in the throes of jubilation, after watching teammate T.J. Smith race his way to a top-six preliminary night finish at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.

By Wednesday evening, however, the 19-year-old Californian was buried in a pit of dejection — a spectacular flip and subsequent crashed race car ruling him out of the remainder of the week.

Elliott started fifth in the seventh heat race for Hard Rock Casino Qualifying Night, but had a run to the bottom on the initial start to fight for second when he and Landon Simon made contact in a three-wide battle for second.

The bump got Elliott’s front end up in the air, sending him cartwheeling wildly down the backstretch before his flipping car made contact with one of the building support posts at the entrance to turn three, setting Elliott down on all four wheels in the work area.

“I feel all right. I’m not really sure what happened there,” said Elliott after the flip. “I got a really good run coming off of (turn) two and you know, most of the times when you get a good run going, whoever is behind you can see that a car is coming. I mean, I don’t know what to expect. It looked like I ran over someone, from looking at the replay there. That was quite a tumble.

“I’m not sure who I ran over, but whenever I did, I mean … it’s the first lap dude, come on. Lift a little bit, you know? I mean, I don’t know what to say.”

While Elliott climbed out of his race car uninjured, the same couldn’t be said for his ride.

“Man, it just sucks,” Elliott noted. “The frame is broken, the motor is broken … I’m not sure how much we can even salvage off this car. It’s pretty junked. We’re done for the week and I hate it.”

– The story of the feature, aside from Rico Abreu’s victory, was another spectacular flip – this one by reigning World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion Brad Sweet.

Sweet – who led the first 14 laps from the pole was racing for third when Blake Hahn fired a dive-bomb slider in turn four, washing up the track and into Sweet’s No. 1r, sending it up and over in turn four.

Though Sweet climbed from the car, his night was over at that point, and he respectfully declined comment on the incident at the end of the night in the pit area.

– Hahn went on from the contact with Sweet to ultimately record a podium finish, crossing the line third and notching his best-ever result in five preliminary-night feature appearances.

However, he was still regretful after the race about the lap-27 incident, which relegated Sweet from a B-main starting spot to deep in one of the Saturday afternoon D-main events.

“I was just going for it,” said Hahn. “This is definitely a huge race and one I want to win, and you’ve got to be in contention come Saturday and that was a move to try and be in as best contention as possible.

“Brad runs a lot and has seen a lot of things. I don’t drive like that. I’ve never driven like that,” Hahn added. “I don’t know if Brad knows that, but I don’t drive dirty. I was teammates with Brad last year, so I’ll let it cool down for a little bit … but I’ll definitely go apologize to him. I didn’t do it on purpose, but it’s something I’ve got to go and apologize for.”

– Two impressive drives in the B-mains were put on by J.J. Yeley and Karsyn Elledge, who went from 10th and eighth, respectively, to transfer into the 30-lap headliner by finishing fourth and third.

Elledge ended up caught up in two incidents, including one flip that ultimately ended her night with a 22nd-place finish, but Yeley was able to drive his way up to 11th and a C-main grid spot for Saturday.

– While three drivers advanced 12 positions during the main event on Wednesday, hard-charger honors went to Tyler Thomas, who took his No. 91 Toyota-powered entry from 18th to finish sixth.

Yeley came from 23rd to 11th and Chase Jones roared from last in the 24-car field to end up 12th.

– In the category of “hasn’t forgotten how to drive,” all-time Chili Bowl wins leader Sammy Swindell wheeled his familiar black No. 1 from the inside of row seven to a top-five finish on Wednesday.

That will line Swindell up in a B-main for the finale, where he’ll look to race his way into his 25th-career Saturday A-main and begin the pursuit of his record-extending sixth Golden Driller.

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