Sounds a bit as blasphemy now, but during the 90’s I was sick and tired of watching Dale Earnhardt win all the time. So, when Jeff Gordon came on the scene and finally gave the Intimidator some competition in the Winston Cup, now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – immediately, I became a fan. All these years later, after witnessing the end of Gordon’s storied career, I am having a little trouble accepting Chase Elliott taking over the reins of the No. 24 and trust me, even going as far as resenting him for it. Perhaps others can relate to these feelings of frustration and understand the dilemma.
True, the No. 24 is just a number — just business. Gordon wants Elliott in the car and fully understanding, any and all rational thinking in this matter makes sense. But, there are still obnoxious yet, honest thoughts fully present during every glimpse of the ‘new’ No. 24 on my television. This feeling has also overcome my seeing the No. 24 used in the XFINITY Series before Gordon’s retirement – so these unfair notions are not Elliott specific.
Honestly there’s nothing against Elliott, as he comes off as being a tremendous talent and individual. And, in my defense, my resentment does not go as far to throw insults or overly criticize Elliott. There’s full respect for him as a competitor and without doubt, he is a huge part of the sport’s future.
But, the more the season progresses — the more unfair my state of mind against Elliott becomes a reality . All the way to that of being satisfied, he crashed out at Las Vegas. Yes the lack of compromise and compassion are certainly a part of my age progressing. But happy a rookie wrecked is simply ridiculous.
Although there’s respect and understanding of the policy to not retire numbers in NASCAR, it still made me feel a little flustered the first couple of times seeing the No. 3 in the truck series. But, the between years of not having the number run in NASCAR’s premier series, made it seem alright. Trust me — if Kevin Harvick came out with a No. 3 on that white Goodwrench car, me and most likely many others would have flipped.
Sure, in another 20 years of following NASCAR, there will be less association for me with matching numbers to drivers, and in time I’ll be trying to remember or understand why these thoughts ever crossed my mind. My best shot at making sense of all this is my loyalty as a fan. But more likely, I’m too set in my ways to accept this change.
Perhaps the sight of the No. 24 back in victory lane will bring full relief of this personal dilemma. Until then, I’ll stay stubbornly and selfishly silent and sub-consciously deal with the new driver of the No. 24.