Chase Elliott celebrates his win at Talladega.

After having Sunday off for the holidays a few weeks ago, NASCAR returned to action this past week at Talladega Superspeedway. The race was well worth the extra wait as the GEICO 500 delivered some of the most exciting racing this year.

In what has become known as “Earnhardt Country” because of the dominance of Dale Sr. and Dale Jr. – the father-son duo combined to win 16 races at Talladega – it was another famous racing name that emerged victorious. Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, led a race-high 45 laps to capture the checkered flag on Sunday.

For Elliott, it was his first win of 2019 and the fourth of his young career, all of which have come in the past 25 races. I remember after Elliott won his first career MENCS race at Watkins Glen last year, I wrote about how we could be witnessing a young driver on the verge of stardom. Since leaving The Glen, that’s exactly what has happened for Elliott.

Over that 25-race stretch, Elliott has been one of the best drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS), leading more than 400 laps and scoring 14 top-10s with an average finishing position of 10.6. After struggling in the first handful of races this season, Elliott has found his footing, leading laps in four of the past five races and locking himself into the MENCS playoffs, which culminate right here at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 17.

Now that he’s secured a spot in the playoffs, Elliott will shift his focus to winning the prized championship at our track. Each of the past two seasons, Elliott has been eliminated from contention during the Round of 8, just before the series heads to South Florida to crown its champion. 

Elliott’s maturation during his career has been a fun journey to watch. Since the day he got behind the wheel, he was instantly one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers, following in the footsteps of his father, Bill, who won the Most Popular Driver Award a record 16 times. But Chase’s multitude of fans waited nearly three years for his first win, and every time he finished runner-up you could see the frustration from both Chase and his fan base mounting.

At the same time, as he continued to have strong showings, you could also see his confidence building just as fast as the frustration. Each loss served as a teaching moment for the young Hendrick Motorsports driver, helping him learn what it takes to finish a race in first place. All of those lessons culminated at Watkins Glen last year when he won his first race, and he hasn’t looked back since.

As Elliott has started to emerge as a threat to win each week, he’s began to be known less as Bill’s son and more as Chase Elliott.

Being the son of a prominent athlete comes with a lot of pressure. While it’s not always easy, many sons are able to make a name for themselves in their sport instead of always being associated with their parents. In basketball we watched Kobe Bryant surpass his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, to become one of the greatest players of all time. Likewise in football, Eli and Peyton Manning stepped out of Archie Manning’s shadow early in their respective careers by leading their teams to Super Bowl victories.

And in baseball, we’re seeing the very early stages of a father-son duo as Vladimir Guerrero’s son, Vlad Jr., was called up to the Toronto Blue Jays this past week. Although much of the focus upon Vlad Jr.’s arrival has been comparing him to his dad, he will try to overcome the same hurdles as Chase did and be known for his performance instead of being tied to his father’s career.

Similar to Vlad Jr., Chase dons the same number that his dad made famous for many years, but his goal is still to be known for his own accomplishments. As Elliott has become a threat to win week in and week out, he finds the pressure of riding the coattails of his father becoming less of a burden.

Even last year he won the Most Popular Driver Award, taking the award his father made famous and having it become his own. If Chase continues to rack up wins like he has over the last year, he’ll have the chance to create a legacy of his own. And maybe one day we’ll be comparing the two once again, but this time not because Chase is trying to live up to his father’s achievements, but because he’s surpassed them.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, May 5 at 2:00 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Saturday, May 4 at 1:30 PM (ET)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Allied Steel Buildings 200 at Dover International Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Friday, May 3 at 5:00 PM (ET)

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series JEGS 200 at Dover International Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

May 3

Fast Lane Friday

May 4

Miami Exotic Auto Racing

May 5

Florida Track Days

May 11

Performance Driving Group

May 18-19

Florida Motorcycle Road Racing Association (FMRRA)

2019 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 15

Ford EcoBoost 200 Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship Race

Nov. 16

Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy Series Championship

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