Embrace debate is all about arguing a point that everyone thinks of but generally pushes to the side. This week we look at the new driver of the #24, a direct disciple of Dale Jr. andJeff Gordon. The future of Hendrick Motorsports, the Peyton Manning of the NASCAR draft if there was one, the kid we’ve all been told will win races for decades to come in this sport. But.
Is Chase Elliott overrated?
Chase Elliott won 3 races in 2014 and the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship as a rookie driving for powerhouse JR Motorsports. He followed that up with a 2nd place points finish in 2015 with only one win before being promoted to the #24 Cup car to replace the retiring Jeff Gordon. His Xfinity career currently has 5 wins in 72 starts.
As for his Cup career, Bill Elliott’s kid is a year and a half into his career with zero wins so far. That’s 55 races, 14 Top 5’s and still no wins. While that’s not uncommon it is becoming a little concerning considering some of the other drivers that have broken through. Chris Buescher (56 races) won in his rookie season albeit a rain win, it’s still a win. People forget Joey Logano’s first win was a rain one as well. Ryan Blaney got his first win a week ago in Pocono in his 67th Cup start.
Forget about Chase’s Cup and Xfinity careers for a minute. Keep in mind though this kid has been in the best equipment his entire racing life. It’s hard to judge talent when that’s the case. If you look at his K&N career a few things stand out. Chase ran two full seasons of K&N East in 2011 and 2012. Over 26 races he recorded 1 win, not stellar numbers. Especially when you consider he had backing from Hendrick and even had ex-Dale Jr crew chief Lance McGrew making the calls for him in 2012.
It’s hard to justify Chase being the next superstar based off those numbers.
Numbers Aren’t Everything
If we went strictly by numbers Jimmie Johnson would have no business in the Cup Series. He had one win to his resume when Jeff Gordon tabbed him for the #48. Johnson won in his 10th race of his rookie year and two more times that same season. Sometimes guys mesh better with Cup cars.
Chase Elliott just seems to lack that closer skill, that killer instinct that Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch have. That closing skill Harvick had in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. Elliott has been in position to win only to race his way out of wins. A lot like Kyle Larson he uses his stuff up, gets nervous and misses a shift and he’s incredibly hard on himself.
Time will tell for Chase Elliott but right now fans are being sold Chase Elliott is a superstar and frankly he’s not. He might not ever be more than an above average driver who wins some races but isn’t the next Jimmie Johnson/Jeff Gordon. That’s fine too, hell of a career can be had from that. Just don’t try to tell the fans this guy is the future of the sport, yet.
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