Every driver dreams of racing at Daytona International Speedway. In the NASCAR Cup Series, winning the Daytona 500 is at the top of their wish list. But some want more, and look beyond just being in or winning a single race. Competitive drivers want to be at the top level; they want to be one of the best. The quest to be one of the best means hoisting the Cup Series trophy at least once in their career.
Chase Elliott: No Guarantee in the Championship Chase
Winning any championship takes time and a lot of effort, even for the son of a NASCAR Hall of Famer. During his career, Bill Elliott won two Daytona 500s and the Cup Series title in 1988. So, expectations were high for the 2014 Nationwide Series Champion, Chase Elliott. Expectations were especially high for him as the first rookie to potentially win a Cup title and the youngest in series history. More added pressure mounted for Elliott as a driver for Hendrick Motorsports, replacing a four-time champion Jeff Gordon and teaming with seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Bill Elliott is well aware that none of these high-pressure points bring a guarantee to his son. And he took some time to share this important point.
“The big thing from talking to dad that I feel like he’s kind of mentioned is just enjoy these moments because these aren’t things you can take for granted,” the younger Elliott said. “You don’t know when our last race win is, you don’t know what tomorrow brings.” – best advice from his dad before competing at Phoenix Raceway in 2020 as part of the Championship Four
Day by Day, Year by Year
‘Enjoying these moments,’ is just what the driver of the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet did, taking it day-by-day, year-by-year. Over three and a half years and 99 races, Elliott had eight runner-up finishes, coming close to winning, but leaving the victory lane celebration to others. His first win finally came in 2018 at the Watkins Glen road course and led to two more wins in the same year. His winning ways extended three more times in the next season, with five big wins in 2020. Last year, Chase Elliott was finally at a point to take the next step in his career.
Starting with his rookie season in 2016, Elliott came into the NASCAR Cup Series, placing tenth, fifth, sixth, and tenth in the series point standings. But despite that success, he was not able to advance past the Round of 8 and into the Championship 4. Last year, he changed all that with his fourth checkered flag of the year at Martinsville in the fall. That win put him into that final race at Phoenix with a shot at taking it all. Having grown and matured, even starting at the rear of the field at the season finale, didn’t deter Chase Elliot from his destiny.
Winning the Cup Championship Title
With a starting spot at the back of the field, Elliott led for the first time at lap 79 in Phoenix. To secure his place in history, he continued to lead 153 of the 312 laps, including the last 42 circuits around the one-mile oval. Chase Elliott wins the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship title. At age 24, the win puts Chase and his father Bill Elliott on a shortlist. The win makes them the third father-son champions in NASCAR history. The Elliott duo joins Lee and Richard Petty with Ned and Dale Jarrett as father-son champions at NASCAR’s top-level.
“This is a moment I’ve dreamed about. This is all I’ve wanted to do is be a race car driver and race in NASCAR. To be honest, I’m humbled.” – Chase Elliott after winning
What is Next for Chase Elliott?
The question now becomes, which box does Chase Elliott check off next? Winning the Daytona 500? Breaking his dad’s record of winning the ‘Most Popular Driver’ award for 16 straight years? Elliott’s potential is surely unlimited but, there is no guarantee in the ‘Championship Chase.”