I must say I had my most fun of the season watching Sunday’s NASCAR race at Watkins Glen and I didn’t even cash a ticket. I was actually rooting against my action just so I could see Chase Elliott win his first career Cup race. I was cheering him in as the laps wound down because this was a major boost NASCAR needed.
Let’s not say the sport is dying because people are still making it the highest rated weekend sporting event on TV and bettors are still regularly betting on it in Nevada, but the stands haven’t been full at the races and all those empty seats look awful in HD. We’ve been seeing the same three guys win weekly and it gets frustrating waiting for the series to even out and be more competitive.
But there might be a savior for the sport and it comes from NASCAR royalty. And the Sunday moment of Elliott winning might be the spark that reboots the sport. His father, “Million Dollar Bill” Elliott, or “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” won NASCAR’s most popular driver award every year he was in the Cup series, and then for the next 15 years, we watched NASCAR Royalty with Dale Earnhardt Jr. win the award.
I think I can correlate Junior leaving last season as part of the reason for the fans not showing up as much. This came a year after Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon retired. Carl Edwards suddenly retired as well. Who do I root for now, many fans would ask? And then the future always pointed to the young and humble Chase Elliott. Everyone likes him.
But after seeing him finish runner-up eight times and no win in 2.5 years in the Cup Series, some doubted him. And then his new Camaro this season was slow and he took a step backward after a promising 2017. But then it all came together at Watkins Glen and the moment was like a storybook come true.
The funny thing about Elliott’s win is it was almost exactly like his father’s start. Bill Elliott was runner-up eight times just like his son before winning his first race. That win came in 1983, and it happened on a road course as well (Riverside). That is some crazy irony.
Elliott was 15-to-1 to win the race and plenty of bettors had him. He’s one of the more popular bets weekly and that should double just because he’s finally won now.
Chevrolet also gets their first win since Austin Dillon winning the Daytona 500. They needed a win as well. We’ll see how much better they look on Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway, a two-mile D-shaped oval. Chevy hasn’t been too good on downforce tracks so far this season.
Elliott finished ninth at Michigan when they raced there on June 10, which was the best performance by a Chevy. The race was rain-shortened with only 133 of the 200 laps run. Clint Bowyer surprisingly outran Kevin Harvick on what would eventually be the final restart and Bowyer did it with older tires. Harvick led a race-high 49 laps and finished second, and Kurt Busch led 46 laps and finished third.
Ford dominated the day to the delight of all the Motor City execs viewing from the luxury suites.