elliott

Chase Elliott is congratulated by his crew after winning the Food City 500 pole in April at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Chase Elliott is one cool customer.

Just consider some of his recent adventures.

On July 31, NASCAR’s most popular driver toured downtown Nashville via a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter as part of an event to promote the Aug. 17 Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

One hour after that unique mission, Elliott executed thrilled dignitaries by turning dozens of laps around Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway in a Bristol Motor Speedway pace car.

Later that weekend, Elliott won the pole for the road race at Watkins Glen International. He then capped his eventful week by defending his event title.

Through it all, Elliott never lost his trademark poise.

“This was the first time we’ve ever sat on the pole, led the most laps and won the race. I’ve never done that in my career,” said Elliott after his Watkins Glen conquest. “We just need to go do that more often, and I think at the end we can run with them.”

Much is expected of the 23-year-old son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott. After capturing three victories last year en route to a sixth-place finish in points, Elliott appeared to be on the verge of a breakout season.

The hype increased after Elliott led 400 laps over the first 13 races of 2019, winning the April 28 showcase at Talladega Superspeedway in a four-lap dash to the checkered flag.

But entering Watkins Glen, Elliott hadn’t finished inside the top 10 since the June 2 event at Pocono.

“The past month and a half has been awful,” Elliott said. We’ve had fast cars at times. It wasn’t just a complete lack of speed. But one thing or another ended up for a bad weekend.”

Much to the delight of team owner Rick Hendrick, crew chief Alan Gustafson and the NASCAR marketing machine, Elliott put all the pieces together at Watkins Glen.

In flawless fashion, Elliott controlled 80 of the 90 laps while holding off a fierce charge from Martin Truex, Jr. in the closing stages.

“That’s the kind of weekend and team you want to have compete with the guys that you’re going to have to beat in this deal,” Elliott said.

According to Hendrick, Elliott already has the essentials to make a run at the Cup title.

“I think Chase has shown that he can win at any track,” Hendrick said. “He’s really good with equipment and doesn’t tear up anything. I think if we can get the car good enough for Chase, he can win a championship, and he can win it this year.”

So what quality does Hendrick appreciate the most in Elliott?

“Chase is just so smooth,” Hendrick said. “He reminds me a lot of his dad. He knows when to race and doesn’t wreck a car, but he can be aggressive when he needs to. I think Chase is going to be a contender for a lot of years to come.”

The next test comes this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

In seven career Cup starts at BMS, Elliott has crafted an average finish of 12.4 with three top-10s while leading 166 laps. He earned the pole for April’s Food City 500.

agregory@bristolnews.com | Twitter: @Greg_BHCSports | (276) 645-2544

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