CONCORD, N.C. -- Chase Elliott may be the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion but he’s not getting complacent during the offseason.
The 25-year-old driver is competing in the Chili Bowl for the first time, adding to his busy offseason schedule. Elliott placed third in the Snowball Derby last month and has the Rolex 24 at the end of January.
“Over the past number of years, I’ve always paid a lot of attention to the races throughout the offseason, being the Snowball Derby, the Chili Bowl, the Rolex 24 races that I admire and really enjoy watching,” Elliott said. “I feel like it would be a really cool challenge for me to go and do something different, and I’m looking forward to giving it a shot. I don’t expect it to go very (well) but I’m excited to go try.”
Elliott’s decision to participate in these different events stems from his desire to continually learn and grow in the racing world. He said watching the races last year made him want to try his hand in the unique dirt event.
“(It is) super competitive and I think that what made me want to do it the most - just the challenge of doing something different and trying to branch out,” Elliott said. “We can all stay in our comfort zones and feel good about things, but I feel it’s great to get a little different angle of racing.”
The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE has been talking with teammate Kyle Larson to help him with the basics of dirt racing. Larson grew up competing on dirt tracks and currently is the reigning Chili Bowl champion.
“As much as he’s willing to share, I’m certainly going to lean on him and at least help me get going,” Elliott said of Larson. “I just think that those beginning stages are just so different. He grew up as a kid learning to drive those kinds of cars, whereas my path to NASCAR was pretty much on asphalt.
“(I’m) just excited to talk to him and learn those things that might be second nature to him but completely foreign to me, and am just looking forward to seeing the differences and seeing how, maybe, they’re similar in some ways, too.”
Elliott, Larson and two drivers under Alex Bowman’s racing team will all try to become Chili Bowl champions this week. The event begins Monday, Jan. 11 and runs through Friday, Jan. 16. All events throughout the week can be streamed through Speed51.TV.