January 27, 2014 — CORDELE, Ga. – staff report by Jacob Seelman with contribution from Speed51.com — Speed51.com photo — Sunday afternoon’s SpeedFest at Watermelon Capital Speedway came down to a duel between the old and new guard of NASCAR’s national-level touring series.
Chase Elliott overcame a late-race duel with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series star Johnny Sauter to win the ARCA/CRA Super Series portion of SpeedFest on Sunday evening at the Melon.
Elliott had the dominant car through most of the event, but fast qualifier Sauter charged hard in the final 50 laps. The two were battling with 15 laps left when they made contact in Turn Three, sending Sauter for a spin and out of a shot at Victory Lane.
With Sauter out of the picture, Elliott set sail to his second SpeedFest victory (also won in 2011) over 2013 Southern Super Series champion Daniel Hemric, Austin Theriault, David Ragan and Jeff Cannon.
“It was a tough race,” the Georgian Super Late Model standout said of the 200 lap event. “Johnny’s one of the best short track racers in the country. I felt we both raced each other really really hard. I feel like if you asked him, he may or may not tell you it was my fault, but ultimately it was a hard racing deal. We both drove it down there [turn three] so hard. He took a little lower line [than I was expecting] that when we both hit each other we were both sideways. I was on the bottom and he was on the top and luckily we were able to come out if it. He knows as well as I do that that wasn’t intentional.”
In the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour portion of SpeedFest John Hunter Nemechek broke through for his first career late-model victory. He withstood several green-white-checkered restarts to beat Spencer Davis to the checkered flag.
Nemechek’s win broke a string of three straight PLM victories by Chase Elliott at SpeedFest. Elliott did not compete in this years PLM feature.
Korey Ruble, J.J. Haley and Dwayne Buggay completed the top five.