BRISTOL (AP) — Chase Elliott collected the checkered flag and soaked in the sounds of fans in the grandstands. The spectators at Bristol Motor Speedway surged to the fence, chanted “USA! USA!” and celebrated NASCAR’s most popular driver.
Cue the siren at the Dawsonville Pool Room — another Elliott is an All-Star winner.
Chase Elliott joined his father, Hall of Famer “Awesome” Bill Elliott, as winner of NASCAR’s annual All-Star race, earning the USD1 million prize on Wednesday in front of limited spectators at the Tennessee track.
“Tonight felt like an event again and I felt like we’ve been missing that piece for a couple months,” said Elliott, who won races at Charlotte in the Cup Series and Truck Series with no fans. “It felt good to have NASCAR back. NASCAR is about the fans. I felt like the vibe was back.”
Back in his Georgia hometown, the pool room marks every win by the father or son by blaring its horn no matter the time of day or night. “I hope someone got a good video of it for me,” Elliott said. “That’s such a special tradition.”
Over in victory lane, the normally reserved Elliott celebrated like never before. He accepted the track’s gladiator sword trophy and waved it in the air, stabbed it toward his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet — he drives number nine, just like his father did — and pretended to vanquish his foes with it in his celebration.
“What a special race to win. It’s extremely special to join Dad in winning this race,” Elliott said. “To me this is one of the prestigious events on the schedule. There’s a lot of hype around it. It means a lot to me. You are racing against the very best. To beat the best is always special.”
Elliott won the second and third stages of the event and earned the right to choose which lane he wanted to restart for the final 15-lap sprint to the finish. He picked the outside lane and pulled buddy Ryan Blaney with him on the restart but was never challenged and beat Kyle Busch to the finish line.
Bill Elliott won the race in 1986, the only year it was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race began in 1985 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and was held at that North Carolina track every year but one until it was moved during this pandemic-altered year.
Tennessee officials allowed NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports to sell 30,000 tickets to the All-Star race, so it was moved from Charlotte because North Carolina would not authorise spectators for the race.
“There’s nothing like Bristol,” Chase Elliott said. “There’s no feeling like it. This speaks for itself, Bristol is an electric atmosphere. We’ll take that million dollars back to Georgia.”