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Chase Elliott says Snowball Derby disqualification was due to an accident

In his first public interview since his Snowball Derby disqualification, Chase Elliott says the illegal block of tungsten in his car was not placed to give him an advantage.

Jerry Markland

Chase Elliott called the disqualification that cost him a second victory in the Snowball Derby 'an accident' and an ordeal that left him 'extremely disappointed' during an interview with Speed 51 in the driver's first public statement since the Dec. 8 event in Pensacola, Fla.

Elliott says that the illegal block of tungsten that found its way into his Super Late Model was intended for his NASCAR Pro Series and ARCA entries but somehow ended up in the same storage area as the lead.

"All the weights sit on the same rack (in the shop) and it was simply just a mistake when it got installed," Elliott told the website's founder Bob Dillner. "That car was built last year; I am not sure who put it in there. Regardless it was a mistake and it was put in there by accident and it was overlooked before we went down there."

Elliott says that he and his team, which includes crew chief and 2002 Derby winner Ricky Turner, were aware that tungsten was illegal in the race and understood the consequences, insisting that he was completely unaware that it was installed in the car.

Despite the plea of innocence, Elliott also believes the tungsten was not a competitive advantage because they had only one six-inch block placed in the car, on the right side.

"I think it would have been if we had both rails filled up with tungsten, then yeah, that would have been a big advantage," Elliott said. "To have one six-inch piece of tungsten in the car, I can't say that did anything for us."

Elliott called the end result 'an extreme bummer' but is still proud of the weekend he and his No. 9 team had. He ultimately chooses to look at the disqualification as another example where a win just got away, be it due to the driver or the team. With an ARCA Racing Series test coming up at Daytona this weekend, Elliott is choosing to move on, not worrying about the perception that he is being labeled as a cheater.

"Everybody is entitled to their opinion and I am not going to take that away from anybody," Elliott said. "You are going to have people that understand the situation and I respect that. I have been lucky to have a lot of support from a lot of racers and a lot of fans."

Brooks spoke about the incident on a Gulf Coast radio station on Dec. 14 and explained that the primary reason he outlaws tungsten is the $48/lb. difference between the precious metal and lead. Despite the disqualification, Brooks stated that it shouldn't damped their weekend as the team successfully won the Snowflake 100 Pro Late Model race and the pole position for both the Snowflake and Snowball Derby.

Chase's father and the 1988 Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott was seen shaking Brooks' hand before leaving the track and the younger Elliott says he'll be back to compete at the event as long as his budding NASCAR career doesn't create any conflicts.

"I think a lot of it depends on what else we have going on," Elliott said. "It just depends on where our focus is going to be. We are still working on what we are going to be doing for 2014. If things work out and there is an opportunity to go, then I would love to go back.

"If we are too busy and have too much going on, hopefully we can go back another year."

In addition to Super Late Model victories in the All-American 400 and Alabama 200 this past season, Elliott also scored his first victories in the ARCA Racing Series at Pocono and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, on the road course, at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

Read the complete transcript of Elliott's conversation with Dillner here. The complete archive of SB Nation's Snowball Derby coverage can be accessed on the Ranting and Raving blog's front page.