DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Chase Elliott was known in racing long before his first race, the little kid hanging around the race track with his champion father.
Elliott’s made his own name for quickly winning races _ and ticking off other teams in the process.
The 18-year-old Elliott has had a string of incidents in just two years that has seen him tangling with teams, usually on his way to Victory Lane. The latest dust-cup came at Saturday’s ARCA race at Daytona International Speedway. He was blamed for an early wreck that sparked a fight in the pits, and a melee in the garage, with a baseball bat as an accessory.
Seems like everyone wants to take a swing at Elliott.
“You don’t try and cause problems,” Elliott said Thursday at Daytona. “How people perceive that is up to them.”
Elliott wrecked leader Ty Dillon to win a Truck race last year in Canada and became the youngest winner in the series.
“Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to try to get to Victory Lane,” he said after the race.
His last lap swerve last year at Road America cost both him and Andrew Ranger a shot at the win.
And just last month, Elliott denied Johnny Sauter a win in a late model race after the two made contact and Sauter was sent spinning. With the race under caution, Sauter drove his car around the track and tapped Elliott before pulling off the track.
Elliott will try and survive the fray when he drives the No. 9 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in Saturday’s Nationwide Series season opener at Daytona. Elliott, the son of 1988 NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, drives the No. 9 in a nod to his father.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. understands better than any driver the microscope that comes with breaking into the sport with a famous last name.
He remembered causing an accident at Daytona early in his career that earned him the ire of Jeff Burton and Dick Trickle.
“I think it happens more often with guys like myself, or Chase, number one, because they are angry,” Earnhardt said. “But number two, they expect more out of you. They expect you to know better than to do that because you are Bill Elliott’s son, or you are Dale Earnhardt’s son and you’ve been around this forever and you ought to know better. And they want you to know better.
“As much they were there to chew my butt, they were there to help me to understand to not make that mistake again.”
Elliott has been in the Hendrick Motorsports development program since 2011, when he was a freshman in high school. His first NASCAR K&N Series win was at Iowa in 2012, and he became the youngest superspeedway winner in ARCA history at Pocono last June.
Earnhardt was impressed with Elliott’s coolness in the ARCA scrum when everyone else around him unraveled.
“He’s sitting there in the car under caution with a pretty level head about the situation, which I felt pretty good about,” Earnhardt said. “He doesn’t get excited. He doesn’t bad mouth; he doesn’t point fingers and say, `It’s that guy’s fault’ or `It wasn’t my fault’. He just has a real level head and open mind about things, and I like that about him.”
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