NASCAR Nationwide Series Q&A: Chase Elliott doing what he loves

jutter@charlotteobserver.comMay 23, 2014 

— This has been a big week for the Elliott family.

Bill Elliott was announced Wednesday as the leading vote getter for the newest five-member class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which will be inducted during January.

During interviews after the announcement, Elliott said these days in NASCAR he’s simply known as “Chase’s dad.”

Chase Elliott, Bill’s 18-year-old son, leads the Nationwide Series points standings entering Saturday’s History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He haswins this season at Texas and Darlington, S.C.

The Observer recently spoke to Chase on a variety of topics.

Q: Do you even remember seeing your dad race?

A: I don’t remember getting to see my dad race at lot until later in his career. I remember being at the track a lot. I still see a lot of pictures of myself around my dad at the track as a little kid. The racing I’ve known him more for is during his time racing with Ray Evernham. The rest of it was before I was ever around. He was driving the No. 9 and that’s what I remember and where I got my liking of that number from.

Q: So how did your interest in racing originate?

A: Growing up around it was cool. I had a lot of respect for what my dad did and the success that he had. I wanted to give it a try. He never forced me in any way to go this route. It was my decision. He would push me to work harder at it but only because it was my decision to race. If there was ever a day when I didn’t want to do it any more, he would be fine. Now my mom, she wanted me to play golf.

Q: Did you ever have any interest in trying other sports?

A: Not really. Racing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I love sports in general, love watching them, love going to games. I have a lot respect for athletes throughout a lot of different sports, but racing has always been what I wanted to do. I’m privileged to get to it right now.

Q: Do your parents worry about you as a race car driver as far as the danger?

A: I think they are both pretty cool about it. My mom has watched my dad race a long time and she has always seemed OK with it. Dad’s been around it long enough so he knows everything about it and it doesn’t bother him. I think they both enjoy watching me race and being a part of my career.

Q: Is there any anything about a racing career that gave you hesitance or a time when you considered going in another direction?

A: I don’t think so, no. Racing is what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s always been a love of mine. I enjoy watching it and being a fan of racing, first and foremost. I think you should be a fan of something first if you intend to spend your life around it. You’re going to have days when things don’t go your way at the track. On those days, you just have to realize they happen to everybody in his sport and basically just suck it up.

Q: You are getting bombarded with questions regarding when you’ll move to the Cup series. How do you handle that pressure?

A: I’m not in a rush to get to the Cup series by any means. I have a great opportunity where I’m at right now at JR Motorsports and I want to make the most of that. If I can show up each week and do my job the best that I can and try to improve, I think the future will figure itself out. Mr. (Rick) Hendrick has really opened the door for me the past two years and if it weren’t for him, I’m not sure where I would be in my career. Whatever he thinks is the right step at the right time, I support his decision.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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