By: Pete Pistone – @PPistone | MRN.com on May 5, 2017 | 4:04 P.M. EST
Chase Elliott says he’s focused on running well, winning races and not carrying NASCAR. (Photo: Getty Images)
Chase Elliott is focused on running well, winning races and not carrying NASCAR.
The second-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver has generated much discussion in recent days as a possible successor to Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the sport’s most popular driver. Earnhardt will step away from the sport at the end of the season and Elliott’s name has been brought up as a future face of NASCAR.
But the Hendrick Motorsports driver isn’t interested in doing anything but succeeding behind the wheel.
“I just feel a responsibility to do my job, try to go fast, give ourselves a chance to win races and the rest of it will take care of itself,” Elliott said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway.
“I want fans to follow it, for sure. I’d love to have their support, but it’s their choice. If it’s genuine, it’s great. That’s my only request. I want it to be genuine for whoever they want to pull for, whether it’s me or somebody else. Find that connection you have with somebody, make it genuine and make it something you want to be a part of. That’s what racing is all about.”
Elliott goes into Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega third in the series point standings behind Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. He’s still in search of a first career Cup Series win and believes it could come Sunday in the season’s second restrictor-plate race.
But in order for that to happen, Elliott recognizes that his team has to overcome some challenges he thinks have kept him out of Victory Lane so far in 2017.
“We’ve had ups and downs,” he said of the season’s first nine races. “We fired off really well with the way we ran at Daytona and Atlanta. Our western races were pretty strong but over the past few weeks, we haven’t performed up to our potential. We need to execute races, even on the days that your car is not driving like you want it to.”
While Elliott has his sights set on winning Sunday, he’s also using the weekend to pay tribute to his dad – Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, who turned a record lap of more than 212 mph at Talladega 30 years ago to win the pole.
The younger Elliott is wearing a pair of shoes this weekend that depicts his father’s record run.
“I’m really excited about the shoes,” he said. “I posted a picture on my Instagram if anybody is interested. Dad ran 212 mph here in that Coors car. They did it their own way and were really good at it. It’s a great part of racing history. I’m a little biased because of my dad.”
Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” will have live coverage of Sunday’s GEICO 500, beginning at 1 p.m. (ET) – with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App.