Bill Elliott’s Son Fast Tracking At Age 13
By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
The voice on the phone was strong and clear, confident yet pleasant and conversational. It was hard to imagine it coming from a 13-year-old seventh grader.
“Hi, this is Chase Elliott,” he said. “I hear you want to interview me.”
Elliott, the son of Sprint Cup driver Bill Elliott, has gotten lots of practice at doing interviews since Sunday when he ran his first Late Model race, at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Valdosta.
In his first time out in short track-racing’s elite division, his first time ever on a half-mile track and his second time ever in a full-size race car, he drove like a veteran, qualifying eighth, and finishing sixth against a strong field of Southern short track stars who compete in the ASA Late Model South Series.
“It was awesome!” Chase Elliott said. “It went really good for the first race. I was one of the fastest cars in practice. I think we all were pleased.”
He said he found the Late Model cars to be a new challenge compared to the Legends vehicles he’s been driving. “It’s a lot more weight, and it’s different in how it handles and how wide it is. I liked it a lot.”
Elliott said he’s not sure yet if it will be easier to pass other drivers in Late Models races compared to Legends events, which usually are contested in smaller cars, at lower speeds and on shorter tracks.
“I think it will depend on the race track you’re on,” he said. “It was insane to pass at Valdosta. It looks real wide, but the apron comes up real far on the track. If you get up under somebody they can just pinch you down.”
Dad found himself in a new role too. He drove the team’s transporter – an 18-wheeler – to the track and worked his first race from the spotters’ stand.
What he saw from the spotters’ stand, he could hardly believe.
“I was worried that he might not even qualify for the race,” Bill Elliott said. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought he’d do as good as he did. He took right to it. I was way proud of him.”
The elder Elliott was so impressed that he fell down on his own job a time or two.
“I didn’t see one spin down in [turns] three and four,” he said. “I was too busy watching Chase.”
This weekend, Chase and his crew chief, Late Model racing veteran Ricky Turner, will be on their own for a Georgia Asphalt Series race at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Ga.
Dad will be at Texas Motor Speedway, driving the Wood Brothers Ford in the Sprint Cup series.
Bill Elliott said he plans to run his son in as many Late Model races as possible this year. And he’s trying to keep everyone realistic as possible after such a strong start.
“It could all change this weekend,” he said. “He’ll have his ups and downs. But in his first race, he kept his nose clean and did a good job. That’s the most important part.”
Chase Elliott has time to be patient career-wise. It’ll be three more years before he can even drive on the highway and even longer before he can run in any of NASCAR’s elite divisions, where he hopes to be competing one day.
But he doesn’t seem to be in a rush – to drive in NASCAR or a street car.
“I’m going to be excited to turn 16,” he said. “I love driving and racing, but 16 will come soon enough.”4 Comments