CONCORD, N.C. -- Chase Elliott is feeling the love after he won his first NASCAR Cup Series championship last Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.
Elliott said the support he’s gotten on and off the track leading up to the title race has meant the world. Bringing a championship back to his hometown of Dawsonville, Georgia, was even sweeter.
“The people, the town, the excitement there was so genuine. It was amazing to see,” Elliott said. “And then to see at the little get together after that all the people that are either close to me, family, or people who have played a role in my career were really all there.
“Those times, I feel like, are really special because you don’t see those people every day, but they have been a huge help and huge part of getting here.”
Jimmie Johnson, Elliott’s teammate, also was on hand for the 24-year-old driver leading up to the race at Phoenix. Whether it was words of encouragement or advice, Elliott said he was touched to have Johnson in his corner.
“I feel like he was as big of a cheerleader anybody was throughout the week,” Elliott said of Johnson. “There were mornings I’d wake up and have a text from him just checking in. ‘How are you doing? You making it this week?’ That kind of thing, which is really cool. I felt like he was excited for us, which was pretty special to see.”
Elliott’s dad, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, also was on hand to see his son win his first title. It’s been 32 years since Bill earned his championship, making the Elliotts the third father-son duo in history to win NASCAR Cup Series titles.
“I know he’s very proud, and as a son, you love to see that,” Elliott said. “He’s not a guy who gets super excited about much, and that was about as excited as I’ve ever seen him. Those moments are moments that you dream of.”
Elliott’s strong end to the year came after the team switched things up and worked on bettering themselves on the track. The team had a summer slump, but Elliott said it was a goal for the No. 9 crew to always be in contention to win a race, no matter the track or starting placement.
“We improved in some fundamental areas that contributed to these past two months and having opportunities and winning a championship, so I’m certainly appreciative of everyone’s effort at the shop and wanting to be better,” Elliott said. “Congratulations to all of them, too, for another championship.”