Chase Elliott hopes to turn things around after winless NASCAR season

John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Auto Racing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Elliott name in NASCAR is not just royalty but even better than that, it's beloved by the people who buy the tickets, the merchandise and watch every week until the checkered flag drops.

William Clyde Elliott Sr., known more as "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville" and William Clyde Elliott II, known as Chase, have won the most popular driver award, voted on by fans, 22 times. Bill did it 16 times in his 37-year career and could have won it more except that he asked his name be taken off the ballot in 2002.

Chase is on a six-year winning streak despite not even winning a race last year.

"I think a lot of it was my foundation and the path my family took to the success they've had," Chase Elliott said, trying to explain his family's popularity. "People in the late '80s and the '90s could really connect with us because we were a small-town family. There were three brothers and a dad who just loved cars and had an extreme work ethic. And they wanted to be part of a sport that seemingly wanted to be much bigger than they were at the time and they were willing to outwork whomever.

"It was just a story that people could jump on board with. I owe that to them more than anything because they set a good example for me more than anything I've done."

Last year was statistically the worst Chase Elliott has had in the Cup series. He didn't win a race for the first time since 2017, his second year running full time in the Cup series. He also didn't qualify for the playoffs partially because he missed six races because of an injury and one more because of a suspension from NASCAR for rough driving.


"Yeah, I guess it was three-quarters of a season," Elliott said with a laugh. "We struggled pretty bad at the end of '22. We kind of started the season OK. I was happy for the first couple weeks and then I got hurt."

Hurt is how Elliott describes a broken left leg he suffered during a snowboarding accident. Elliott offers no apologies for the accident, calling it a "perfect storm" of what can go wrong in a recreation he refuses to give up.

"It's a great way to get out and get some exercise," Elliott said. "It's something I grew up with, so I enjoy it. I hadn't had a chance to do it this winter. I had my shoulder operated on in November and that's kind of had me down for the count. I look forward to snowboarding again, whenever I can."

The latest injury wasn't anything new, it was to repair a torn labrum suffered many years before.


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