Chase Elliott hopes to extend family success at MIS
Harrison Township — Chase Elliott’s dad, Bill, one of the most popular NASCAR racers in history, used to take his son along to the track.
But long before the driving career of the 22-year-old Elliott accelerated, and he became one of the “young guns” in the NASCAR Cup Series, both father and son answered to a higher authority.
“I just remember always going to the race track, and I had a lot of interest,” Chase Elliott said. “But I had to ask my mom and get her to sign off on it.
“So, that was kind of the joke when I was getting started.”
Mom apparently green-flagged the opportunity often enough.
Elliott has three top-five finishes this season, but no wins and only eight laps led.
He continues to search for his first career win.
“Well, it hasn’t been him, you know?” said his father, Bill, 62, who visited Selfridge Air National Guard Base Wednesday with his son to thank the troops and promote the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway (2 p.m., Sunday, June 10, Fox).
“You look at the race day and it’s been circumstances. It’s not necessarily him, or what he did. It’s everything, the circumstances around him.”
Bill Elliott took seven checkered flags at MIS, including four consecutive wins in 1985 and 1986.
Kyle Larson will be in the hunt for his fourth consecutive win at MIS.
Asked if he has received any family orders about the FireKeepers Casino 400, Chase Elliott smiled.
“Kyle’s had a great run, at Michigan,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’ve been the guy to run second to him on a couple of those occasions.
“I made the first one there way too easy on him,” Elliott said, of spinning his tires on a restart late in the 2016 Pure Michigan 400, when he had the opportunity to lead the race. “So, I’d love to have that one back
“But, I think that it’s been a good track for me and my team.”
Another racer who is the son of a famously popular NASCAR champion retired last year. Dale Earnhardt Jr. received NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Award in each of the last 15 seasons.
The season before that, 2002, Bill Elliott won the award for the 16th time.
The late Dale Earnhardt won it in 2001, his only Most Popular Driver Award.
Bill Elliott won it in each of the 10 years, before that.
With the Earnhardts and the Elliotts monopolizing the fan-voted honor for 27 consecutive years, Kevin Harvick put Chase Elliott on the spot last week.
Harvick, who is dominating the 2018 NASCAR Cup season, said the Elliott is bound to garner the “most popular” mantle.
“The bottom line is when you look at our sport there is only a few guys that come through that have the name, the history, the heritage of that NASCAR family and carry that through their career, and Chase is one of those guys,” Harvick said.
The younger Elliott said he appreciates Harvick’s “kind words.”
“I can’t speak for the fans and all of the people who follow the sport across the country, and what not,” Elliott said. “And nobody can tell the future. So, who knows?
“I’m going to continue to do my thing and be myself and wherever that takes us, it takes us.”
NASCAR at MIS
FireKeepers Casino 400
When: 2 p.m., Sunday, June 10
Support races: Friday — ARCA Series, 5:30 p.m.; Saturday — NASCAR Xfinity Series LTi Printing 250, 1:30 p.m.
Consumers Energy 400
When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12
Support race: Saturday — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Corrigan Oil 200, 1 p.m.