Bill Elliott is unquestionably one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers of all time. Before Dale Earnhardt Jr captured the hearts of NASCAR Nation, it was Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, Georgia who often led the way in prerace cheers and Most Popular Driver voting.
Elliott stepped away from full-time competition following the 2003 season even though he was still a consistent threat to win races. Since 2004, he was remained in the sport on a limited basis, driving for primarily middling teams. He had some solid outings with Evernham’s R&D effort in 2004, and with the Wood Brothers from 2007 to 2010. While he continues his partial schedule each season, he is also grooming his son Chase. Apparently, Ol’ Bill is doing a heck of a job, as Chase is perhaps the brightest young teenage prospect since Joey Logano several years back.
Hendrick Motorsports recently signed the 15-year-old driver to a developmental contract. This is undoubtedly a fantastic opportunity for the Elliott family. On the surface, this is wonderful news for Elliott fans. Nevertheless, while Elliott wheeled different manufacturers throughout his career, he widely identified as a Ford man. He drove a Ford for most of his career before switching to Dodge in 2001. Many Ford fans do not have the disdain for the Dodge brand as they do for the ‘evil’ Chevrolet brand. As most race fans know, Hendrick Motorsports is a flagship operation with Chevrolet.
So, will this impact a Bill Elliott fanatic’s view on his son Chase? Will Chase receive different treatment because he did not laboriously work his way up the ranks as his father did in the 1970’s and 1980’s? Or will Elliott fans welcome young Chase with open arms and an open mind?
Personally, I hope fans give the kid a chance regardless of who he drives for and what he drives. He appears to have a profusion of talent like his father.
I wondered the same thing when Mark Martin left Roush Fenway Racing and began driving Chevrolets for Ginn Racing, DEI, and ultimately Hendrick Motorsports. I am sure there a some fans that abandoned Martin, especially when he signed with Roush’s arch-rival Hendrick. For the most part, it seems that Martin’s fan base was not affected in a negative manner. He possibly gained some new fans to compensate for the ones he may have lost.
Many NASCAR loyalists are also brand loyalists, so there will be some Bill Elliott and blue oval fans that may not have the same admiration for his son Chase. However, I believe that he will inherit a large portion of Awesome Bill’s fanbase, and gain some more as well.
For me, I am going to give the kid a chance. After all, I have a son named Chase as well.