Bill Elliott's 17-year-old son Chase impressive in 1st stint racing at NASCAR's national level

  • Article by: JENNA FRYER , AP Auto Racing Writer
  • Updated: July 10, 2013 - 7:16 AM
hide

Chase Elliott

Photo: Mike Roemer, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Neither father nor son can remember a time when Chase Elliott wanted to be anything other than a race car driver.

The little boy spent his early years at the race track watching "Awesome Bill" win races deep into his 40s. One of Chase's earliest memories was the 2002 victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

His uncles worked on cars and engines, and so much time was spent in the Dawsonville, Ga., shop, that Chase never dreamed of doing anything but following in the footsteps of the 1988 NASCAR champion and 16-time most popular driver.

"I don't think I've ever wanted to do anything else," Chase said. "Who doesn't want to be like their Dad?"

He certainly wasn't destined to be a student, crying himself sick every morning as he tried to get out of going to school.

"I didn't think we'd ever get him through third grade. He hated it so bad," Bill Elliott recalled.

But it's funny how life changes, when commitment and desire become so overwhelming that attitudes adjust and tasks become more bearable. Chase wanted to race, but his parents insisted life wouldn't be all fun and games at the track.

"What we tell him is 'Right now, school is the most important part. The racing can go away in a heartbeat,'" Bill Elliott said. "Anything can take it away. So it's always been 'Get your education.' Chase is in a good school, and he's done a very good job of keeping his grades. He needs just a little prod now and then, but we work closely with the principals and teachers for them to understand what he needs to do. He's been very good about it."

So good that the 17-year-old is spending the summer before his senior year getting a taste of racing at NASCAR's national level. A tweak to the age requirements this year opened the gate for drivers as young as 16 to compete in the Truck Series on ovals a mile or shorter in length and on road courses. The previous age limit was 18.

It's allowed Chase to put together a partial Truck Series schedule this year in a joint effort between Hendrick Motorsports, where Chase is the first developmental driver the organization has had in six years, and Turner Scott Motorsports.

He heads to Iowa Speedway this weekend for his fourth Truck Series race of the year and a legitimate shot at picking up his first victory. In his previous three races, Elliott finished sixth, fifth and fourth.

And in ARCA, which this year allowed 17-year-olds to drive at both Pocono Raceway and Kentucky Speedway after passing an approval test, Chase won his series debut at Pocono last month. He followed it with a fourth-place finish at Road America.

"He just surprises me every time I watch him," said Rick Hendrick. "The maturity he shows — most young guys with an opportunity, they wreck a bunch of stuff trying to figure out how to impress people. They are fast and have talent, but they don't know how to race.

"Chase has really impressed me with how smooth he is. He doesn't get rattled. At Dover, he got a speeding penalty and didn't get rattled. He went back out there and drove it back to the front and finished fourth. And I've really been impressed with how buttoned up he's been, how polished he is and how respectful he is of the team and the equipment."

Hendrick credits Bill and Cindy Elliott with raising their son correctly, and Bill's coaching helps Chase understand the importance of preserving his equipment.

In typical Bill Elliott style, he downplays his role.

"He's a teenager. You can't tell him anything — he listens to a little bit, maybe with half an ear," said Elliott, before softening his stance. "For the most part, he gets it. He's got a pretty good head on his shoulders. This is all up to him. If he wants to race, that's fine. If he don't, that's fine, too. But he's got to go on and make it for himself.

"You get him to a point and then from then on, performance and driving, has to continue on its own. It's up to him and circumstances."

Getting to this point has come from hard work and the lessons Chase has learned alongside his father and small crew in their Georgia shop. He understands the hours of labor it requires to get him to the track, and in having grown up inside the sport, Chase has had his fair share of role models.

He considers himself a fan of Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart, and has paid attention to the way media-savvy Carl Edwards carries himself.

"More than anything, just being around the sport, you see guys come and go," Chase said. "I see some guys who go about it in an awesome way and couldn't do a better job, and I try to take from that. There's a lot to be learned from watching it looking inside."

Bill Elliott said his son is something of a NASCAR junkie and watches every minute of television coverage possible, from the pre-race show all the way through Victory Lane celebrations. He sees his son emulating five-time NASCAR champion Johnson in how he presents himself.

"All his life he's been around grown-up people, and he seems very mature in what he does," Bill said. "He seems to have a good drive about him as far as motivation to get him where he needs to be, and he looks up to Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson — he idolizes those guys. After I've gotten to know Jimmie and how focused he is, he's one hell of a focused individual. He's able to sift through it and stay focused on it all, and put it all together. I think Chase has looked at it that and is learning from that."

So now Chase sits and watches the calendar, waiting for his Nov. 28 birthday, when he'll be clear to race anything he wants. The plan is to continue juggling his final year at Kings Ridge Christian School in Atlanta, where educators are already working with the family to front-load his schedule so he'll have an easier time pursuing a full-time ride in 2014.

Chase is anxious to turn 18, and although he's grateful for the opportunity to run on the small tracks in trucks, he can't help but wonder why NASCAR can't consider drivers on a case-by-case basis for other events.

As his dad watches from the sidelines, he thinks his kid has got a shot at doing big things in NASCAR.

"Even if I try to look at it as objectively as I possibly can, for all the stuff he's run, and now, aligning everything right and getting him with Rick and getting the right crew chief around him, he does real well for himself," Bill said. "He's still got a lot to learn. But on the flipside of that, at this point, he's got a hell of a resume.

"If you look at pure racing resume and what he's accomplished, and even if he does nothing else the rest of his career, he's got one hell of a resume."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
NY Mets 4 FINAL
Washington 5
Boston 8 FINAL
Minnesota 9
Toronto 0 FINAL
Baltimore 5
Oklahoma City 105 FINAL
Chicago 108
Dallas 75 FINAL
Portland 94
Calgary 4 FINAL(SO)
Boston 3
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Toronto 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 4 FINAL(SO)
Florida 3
NY Islanders 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Vancouver 2 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 3
Montreal 3 FINAL(SO)
Los Angeles 4
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 83 FINAL
Bucknell 90
Western Ky 88 FINAL
Charlotte 84
Navy 62 FINAL
Colgate 72
Temple 70 FINAL
East Carolina 56
UAB 59 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 62
Boston Univ 64 FINAL
Lafayette 89
American Univ 68 FINAL
Lehigh 62
Wisconsin 76 FINAL
Minnesota 63
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Saint Peters 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
South Carolina 74
Morehead State 76 FINAL
UT Martin 65
USC Upstate 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
North Florida 71
Southern Ill 55 FINAL
Missouri State 48
Texas State 64 FINAL
Appalachian St 67
SC State 62 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 72
Delaware State 104 FINAL
Coppin State 92
Middle Tennessee 54 FINAL
FIU 59
Texas-Arlington 64 FINAL
Ga Southern 76
Norfolk State 80 FINAL
Hampton 69
NC A&T 58 FINAL
NC Central 69
Savannah State 57 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 72
Marshall 50 FINAL
Old Dominion 67
Rice 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 74
South Alabama 81 FINAL
Arkansas State 76
Alabama State 78 FINAL
Grambling St 46
Alabama A&M 54 FINAL
Jackson State 72
Sam Houston St 67 FINAL
Lamar 61
Georgia State 58 FINAL
ULM 50
Central Arkansas 70 FINAL
Nicholls 77
Portland State 51 FINAL
Northern Ariz 58
Southern U 77 FINAL
Prairie View 73
Alcorn State 73 FINAL
Texas Southern 94
Houston Baptist 72 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 85
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Louisiana 75
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
New Orleans 85
California 60 FINAL
Arizona 99
Memphis 54 FINAL
Connecticut 53
VA Commonwealth 55 FINAL
Davidson 82
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Sacramento St 65 FINAL
Southern Utah 69
Northwestern St 66 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 92
North Texas 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 83
Colorado 64 FINAL
Washington 47
Idaho 63 FINAL
Weber State 74
Abilene Christian 52 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Eastern Wash 85 FINAL
Idaho State 81
Marist 80 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Eastern Ill 64 FINAL
Belmont 97
Bradley 52 FINAL
Drake 50
Cal State Fullerton 62 FINAL
UC Irvine 68
CS-Northridge 58 FINAL
Long Beach State 69
UC Riverside 59 FINAL
UC Davis 61
Stanford 62 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Utah 67 FINAL
Washington St 59
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 62 FINAL
UCLA 80
FIU 30 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Texas State 55 FINAL
Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 57 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
Delaware State 51 FINAL
Coppin State 80
Portland 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 66
Norfolk State 49 FINAL
Hampton 64
Florida Atlantic 56 FINAL
UAB 59
NC A&T 67 FINAL
NC Central 46
Savannah State 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 51
Virginia Tech 51 FINAL
Pittsburgh 45
Central Arkansas 43 FINAL
Nicholls 53
Houston Baptist 48 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 73
Gardner-Webb 70 FINAL
Radford 56
Georgia 75 FINAL
Missouri 64
Old Dominion 67 FINAL
Marshall 55
Ark-Little Rock 68 FINAL
Louisiana 66
South Alabama 60 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Georgia State 66 FINAL
ULM 61
Sam Houston St 73 FINAL
Lamar 92
SE Louisiana 75 FINAL
New Orleans 84
Northwestern St 45 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 56
Alabama A&M 58 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Alabama State 68 FINAL
Grambling 62
Southern U 78 FINAL
Prairie View 50
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Texas Southern 73
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 54 FINAL
Mercer 75
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Incarnate Word 62
La Salle 60 FINAL
Rhode Island 65
Illinois 71 FINAL
Nebraska 86
TX-San Antonio 60 FINAL
Rice 49
Valparaiso 55 FINAL
Oakland 70
Missouri State 65 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Georgia Tech 64 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 84
Charlotte 72 FINAL
Western Ky 80
Texas-El Paso 69 FINAL
North Texas 61
Wichita State 77 FINAL
Evansville 63
Loyola-Chicago 64 FINAL
Northern Iowa 69
Bradley 70 FINAL
Drake 86
Presbyterian 62 FINAL
High Point 75
Vanderbilt 61 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 67
Colorado 75 FINAL
USC 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Pacific 64
Idaho State 58 FINAL
Eastern Washington 62
Weber State 42 FINAL
Idaho 71
Purdue 78 FINAL
Minnesota 82
Cal-Irvine 54 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 66
Long Beach St 60 FINAL
CS-Northridge 77
Hawaii 60 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 36
UC Davis 56 FINAL
UC-Riverside 61
Northern Ariz 79 FINAL
Portland State 62
Southern Utah 73 FINAL
Sacramento St 107
Utah 64 FINAL
Washington 75
BYU 65 FINAL
St Marys-CA 64
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close