It Was An All-Elliott Night In Georgia
By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
Jefferson, Ga. – During the late 1980s, a trio of good ol’ boys from north Georgia named Elliott burst onto the NASCAR scene and proceeded to take the sport’s established stars to the woodshed.
Bill Elliott and brothers Dan and Ernie, the dominant force in NASCAR just over two decades ago, gathered with friends and relatives at Gresham Motorsports Park Saturday night to honor their late father, George Elliott, who passed away on Sep. 18, 1998.
Drivers such as Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett, Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte, Benny Parsons, Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough struggled to maintain the blistering pace set by the Elliotts during their run to the 1988 Winston Cup championship.
With Ernie calling the shots atop the pit box and providing the horsepower and Dan heading up the over-the-wall crew, Bill proceeded to pilot the red and white No. 9 Ford prepared at the team shop in Dawsonville, Ga. to victory lane a whopping 25 times in NASCAR’s Cup Series during a four-year span.
About 30 members of the Elliott clan showed up Saturday night at the track that has quickly became a popular testing facility for today’s Sprint Cup stars to honor the family patriarch while celebrate the budding career of 14-year old Chase Elliott, a nine-time race winner in 2010 heading into the George Elliott Memorial Super Late Model 100.
“This is one of the most important nights of my life to honor my father,” Gresham Motorsports Park general manager Dan Elliott said as he addressed the crowd during Saturday evening’s prerace ceremonies.
As Dan stood on the front stretch and spoke to the fans over the public address, Ernie walked onto pit road and stood alongside Atlanta Motor Speedway chaplain Bill Brannon.
Chase and his mother, Cindy Elliott, chatted briefly with acquaintances while Bill opted to stay near the team hauler in the infield and maintain his focus on his son’s No. 9 Ford that qualified second but wound up starting on the pole following the inversion draw.
Under the watchful eye of his father, who found a perch on the spotter’s stand, Chase quickly rekindled memories of his famous dad by opening up nearly a straightaway lead on the field in just 10 laps.
And it was only fitting that Chase, who is still just over three years away from being eligible to compete in NASCAR’s top series, wound up leading all 100 laps and holding off veteran Bubba Pollard by .388 seconds at a race track that his grandfather once managed.
“I really ain’t got words to say,” Bill Elliott said with a wide smile on his face as he watched his son and team celebrate in victory lane. “Chase does a really good job. He’s been on a roll here lately and Bubba was good.
“Bubba was coming and we got a good enough lead on him. I think Bubba used a little bit of his stuff up to get us. But I’m proud of the guys to come here and do this tonight for my dad and all the stuff that he tried to do at this particular race track over the years.
“I remember when he tried to run this place and I sold hot dogs, hamburgers and tickets over here at this race track a long time ago.”
– Jeff Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgNo Comment