Sunday at Dover was just another instance in Chase Elliott’s Cup career where he came up just short, again. Not just short after running the leader down but instead just short by allowing the win to be taken from him. Kyle Busch skirted around the #24 with 2 laps to go in route to back to back victories. Once again Chase Elliott gave away another win.
Following Chase Elliott’s Xfinity Series Championship in 2014, NASCAR thought they had a superstar on their hands. They appointed him as the next big thing. Then came the announcement he’d take over the famed #24 car. With that ride comes a vast amount of pressure. A historically fast car that has a winning pedigree with a fast rookie driver who NASCAR and the NASCAR media have appointed as the next superstar. NASCAR needed to establish a young driver as the next big thing. With Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Dale Jr all retired back to back to back seasons.
Will Chase Live Up To The Expectations?
It’s scareligious to question Chase Elliott. The Chase fan girls will be out in full force but at some point you have to question his inability to close.
The hype surrounding Chase Elliott is a weird phenomenon. NASCAR was so desperate to establish a young superstar they sold the fans on the racing pedigree of his last name and his 4 Xfinity wins when he joined the Cup series. Two full Xfinity seasons under his belt in a time where Kyle Busch dominated, 4 wins actually isn’t that bad. Is he the guy to replace Gordon and Dale Jr though?
When you look at Chase’s journey climbing the ladder from lower series to Cup his numbers aren’t indicative of a guy who is going to be a Cup superstar. Keep in mind Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon both lacked the lower level numbers that would impress anyone but at the same time, their rookie and sophomore years were far better than Elliott’s. Even Elliott’s results in the K&N Series weren’t the most stellar, 30 starts and 2 wins. His rise to “super stardom” is certainly fascinating if you purely look at this from a numbers standpoint.
It’s Not Chase’s Fault Either
Perhaps Chase Elliott is a run of the mill NASCAR driver. A guy who will win 10 races in his career and just kind of be that consistent dependable driver. A Ryan Newman/Jeff Burton type of driver. A guy who gets you good finishes but isn’t great at closing when it matters. If that’s the type of driver he is that’s fine. So far in his nearly 2 complete Cup seasons Elliott has no wins but has had some really solid finishes. He’s made The Playoffs both seasons but hasn’t done much outside of “hating it for his guys” when he hands another race away.
Chase Elliott didn’t appoint himself the next big thing. He just happened to be thrust into this position. Instead of allowing a guy to organically become a star, NASCAR decided to make Chase the guy. Unfortunately for him, he is now under scrutiny for not living up to the expectations unfairly cast on him by the media and the governing body.
At some point, Chase Elliott will win a race. Will he ever be a full blown superstar? So far he’s trending towards a no, but his career is still young. Next season he’ll have 2 new teammates, both capable of winning races. How Elliott performs in year 3 will be a true sign of how his career will go.
Ps. Chase Elliott could be the next Jimmie Johnson at Dover, in his four career races there he has finished 3, 3, 5, 2.
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