Can Chase Elliott Get His Brickyard Moment?
INDIANAPOLIS – When Bill Elliott scored the next-to-last NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of his career in the 2002 Brickyard 400 the NASCAR legend was quite emotional in victory lane as one of the first to greet the winner was his young son, Chase.
It meant a lot for old “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” to share one of the crowning moments of his career with his son, who had yet to be born when Elliott was burning up the tracks in NASCAR during his glory years of 1985, ’87 and ’88.
“It was a fun deal,” Bill recalled of his 2002 Brickyard win. “It was a unique experience. There’s a picture of us kissing the bricks and he’s standing behind us watching us. He’s a little kid and it’s fun to watch him grow up and be what he is today. Like I said, a lot of pressure in this sport, you’ve just got to learn to deal with it.
“I remember a lot about that day. It was kind of a unique deal. We kind of came together real well as a team that whole year and was kind of on a roll. We won Pocono the week before and came here and really had a good race car. We tested well here. We had a lot of good stuff and just — everything just fell our way that day. We raced Rusty Wallace really hard there at the very end, and it was quite a memorable day. I enjoyed that.
“I think any win, as you get older, is much better. And it’s just kind of a part of — you know; capped off a really great career what we had. And all even starting back in Georgia on our own versus coming to Ray Evernham and running for him those three years was a fantastic journey.”
The same scenario could be repeated Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway only in reverse if the son of the two-time Daytona 500 winner drives the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet to victory in the Lilly Diabetes 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Chase is the Nationwide Series points leader by seven over Regan Smith and eight over Elliott Sadler entering Saturday afternoon’s race.
Today, Chase is just 18 years old and his memories of his dad’s big win at the Brickyard are a bit faded.
“I remember going to victory lane and being a part of it,” Chase recalled. “There are a lot of great pictures to look back on. But heck, I was so little then, it’s hard to remember a whole lot from that day.”
Young Chase is already a three-time winner in the Nationwide Series this season including last Saturday night’s race at Chicagoland Speedway when he led 85 laps in the car owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
He has “Star Quality” all over him and it won’t be long before Elliott moves up to the Sprint Cup Series and can start chasing his father’s records – accomplishments so impressive that Bill Elliott is a member of the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame class.
Before that, however, the two Elliotts can be reunited in a place where Father and Son enjoyed such a fantastic moment together 12 years ago in victory lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It would mean a lot to me,” Chase admitted. “Obviously, I would much rather win the race on Sunday here than the one on Saturday. But we’ll definitely give it our best shot. So to go along the lines with his win, that would be great, you know, to have won the Sunday race for both of us. But the Saturday race would mean a lot to us. Just to have a win at Indy I think would be very huge.
“This is a place that has a lot of history to it and I think it’s cool Nationwide gets to race here now and have the opportunity to kiss the bricks.”