Now that Chase Elliott has taken the most famous name in Georgia racing to the pole for Sunday’s Daytona 500, what exactly is proper for us to expect?
It seems that nothing would surprise the 20-year-old Elliott, who Sunday became the youngest ever to put himself on the inside of the first row of this most noted parade of stock cars.
“Sitting on the front row is a great goal to shoot for on qualifying day. I felt really confident in the car they had taken down there,” he said during an appearance at his home track, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Monday. That particular car was the No. 24 run by Jeff Gordon, last at Talladega in the fall (Gordon was on the pole in that race, finishing third).
As reported in a story in Tuesday’s AJC, and on myajc.com, the young Elliott is light years ahead of the pace set by his Hall of Fame father, Bill Elliott.
But all that said, there is so much about the Daytona 500 that works against an inexperienced driver like Chase that, as Bill said, “to make it to the end of the race is going to be a challenge in itself.”
So much of this week of preparation and warm-up racing – as well as the 500 itself – is going to be an educational experience for the younger Elliott. Both he and his father seem to treat the Daytona 500 as a bit of a freak show in advance of the more conventional racing that begins a week later at AMS.
Said Chase, “Daytona is one of the biggest races, if not the biggest race, for the NASCAR world. However, it’s kind of its own deal. A lot of racers look at Atlanta as that Week One at a race track we’re going to see more often.
“We only see plate races four times whereas a race track like Atlanta we’re going to see countless times throughout the season – that’s what makes up the majority of our season. When we get here you’ll see more of how things are going to go for teams, you’ll see how you really stack up amongst the competition once we get going.”
Chase Elliott is not going to win the Daytona 500. Not this year.
It just doesn’t happen. Not with first-timers, no matter their surname.
This is what we should expect: Just get through that day in one piece, absorb the lessons and move on to a place he knows better than anywhere else on the schedule.
Oh, but can you imagine if by some chance Elliott did win Sunday. The siren would blow up atop the Dawsonville Pool Room and racing would have the latest next-gen star.