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Elliott Thinking Now, Not Then

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 3 2016
Chase Elliott is hoping for a big race at Darlington this weekend. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Tom Copeland)

Chase Elliott is hoping for a big race at Darlington this weekend. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Tom Copeland)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Two years ago Chase Elliott pulled off a major upset and won the NASCAR Xfinity race in his Darlington Raceway debut, but the Georgia native said that doesn’t mean anything today.

“We didn’t have a very strong run here last year, which was disappointing,” Elliott said prior to Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500. “So … I don’t know that it [win two years ago] does a ton for you, but I think just having the laps will be, hopefully, helpful and we will see how it goes.”

Elliott enters the tradition-laden Labor Day classic at the 1.366-mile track after his second straight runner-up finish at Michigan. The 20-year-old rookie’s critique of his two performances this year at the 2-mile track has resulted in some saying he’s too hard on himself. However, the second-generation driver disagrees.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinion and I think everybody has their own way of going about their business,” Elliott said. “I have my own way of going about things and my own way about going about my job. I think we all do. I’m going to respect everybody else’s (opinion) and you hope you get that respect back.”


Chris Buescher enters the Bojangles’ Southern 500 barely in 30th position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings and the rookie who’s only two races away from a spot in the Chase admits he’s “a little bit anxious” about Darlington Raceway.

“Nature has not helped us by any means,” Buescher said in reference to the rainout of Friday’s activities due to Tropical Storm Hermine. “Without qualifying right now it’s gonna put us starting a lot further back than what we’ve been able to qualify the last several months, so that’s a little bit of a bummer there.”

Buescher, who won the rain-shortened August race at Pocono, starts 31st in Sunday’s race. He must be in the top 30 in the standings after the first 26 races in order to secure a berth in the Chase. The bright side is Buescher likes the tough old Darlington track.

“Darlington is my favorite race track we go to,” Buescher said. “I had a lot of fun there on the Xfinity side and I’ve gotten my fair share of stripes already, so maybe I’m done with that and we can keep it clean this weekend.”

Buescher said he was “aggressively racing” for every point, but he wouldn’t take any unnecessary risks.

“Being there at the end of the race is gonna be huge,” Buescher said. “This year it’s been a learning curve for me and, unfortunately, we have a lot of DNFs that I’ve never had in my career. It’s been tough on me trying to grasp the way our season has gone as far as that goes.”


Jamie McMurray was on the driver council last year with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and he said the way the third-generation driver handled issues would have many of them laughing.

“On a text message or email, he would just type paragraphs,” McMurray said. “He had this great information and always had these ideas. Then you’d get in the meeting and he would just be a mute, like he never said anything. And then, as soon as the meeting was over, your phone would start blowing up again. And we’re like, ‘Why didn’t he talk in the meeting?’

“But he has some really good ideas. We enjoy talking to him and giving ideas to him. Everyone has a different perspective on what they think is right and wrong. I think he’s a good moderator and everyone values his opinion; he’s done a phenomenal job at that.”


During Cale Yarborough’s childhood years, the Timmonsville, S.C., native didn’t have the money to attend a Darlington race, so he scooted under a fence to gain access to the track. It was that day that fueled the NASCAR Hall of Famer’s passion for the sport. 

On Saturday, the Lady in Black’s garage was named for the three-time NASCAR champion.


Don’t faint. Richard Petty is celebrating his 80th birthday next year on July 2. Due to this milestone, the Petty family, Richard Petty Motorsports, Petty’s Garage, Petty Family Foundation, Petty Museum and Victory Junction have announced a 10-month long celebration.

There is a celebration calendar at www.KINGs80th.com where fans may follow the various activities planned leading to Petty’s birthday celebration at Daytona Beach in 2017.

Petty’s children – Kyle, Lisa, Rebecca and Sharon – Petty’s Garage and Ford Motor Co. kicked off the celebration by presenting Petty with the 43rd and last build of the 2017 Petty’s Garage “King Edition” Ford Mustang GT. The car is silver and one of only 26 left available to the public. The keys to the car were presented to Petty at the Mustang Club Car Show in Indianapolis. 

  The Petty Museum is now offering shirts that replicate the first racing tee Petty wore. The shirt features the 1964 Plymouth Petty drove to his first NASCAR championship. The shirt will be available at the Petty Museum and on the Website until July 2017. The Petty Museum will culminate the celebration with the opening of the Petty-Toomes Homestead, the historical landmark in Level Cross, N.C., where Petty was born.

Fans may join in the conversation on social media about Petty’s 80th birthday using the hashtag #KINGs80th.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 3 2016
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