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Chase Elliott becoming no stranger to success…and controversy

By admin | December 11, 2013

 Chase Elliott, seen here at the Volunteer Speedway with his father Bill.

By Richard Allen

Second generation racer Chase Elliott is one of the most talented young drivers rising through the ranks of the auto racing world today. He has proven himself on asphalt and dirt as well as on ovals and road courses. And, he has a great pedigree, which makes him both marketable and savvy to the ways that lead to success in this difficult sport.

However, the young star found himself in the midst of some significant controversies during 2013 that he would most likely rather not have had.

This past Sunday at the Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., Elliott won one of the most prestigious Super Late Model short track races on the planet when he captured the Snowball Derby. And just the night before, he had emerged victorious from that same track’s Snowflake 100 for Pro Late Models, making him the first driver ever to accomplish that double feature sweep.

Unfortunately, Elliott’s celebration of the unprecedented feat would prove to be short-lived as his Snowball Derby winning ride was found to be in violation of the rules during a post-race technical inspection. It seems as if his crew had placed illegal tungsten weights within the frame of the car rather than the allowed lead weights. Because of its denser nature, tungsten would allow his team to place the weights in more strategic locations, and thus, help the car’s handling.

Tungsten is not allowed due to the excessive cost of the material.

The younger Elliott(@chaseelliott) took to Twitter to say,  “Simply sorry to everyone. One Mistake on our part costed us the race. I Can’t thank the ones who are still supporting us tonight enough.”

See also—> Sprint Cup winners should be DQ’d when their cars fail post-race inspection

This was not the first meeting with controversy in 2013 after a victory for the 18 year old son of 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup(now Sprint Cup) champion Bill Elliott.

On September 1st of this year, Elliott tangled with Ty Dillon in the last turn on the last lap of a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.  The incident sparked controversy between the two drivers, and even among fans and media members.

“We only have so many shots to win these things. I really hate to win them like that, I really do,” Elliott said immediately after the race. “That’s not how I race and that’s never been how I’ve raced before. I had a shot. I was up next to Ty and I knew he was going to try and chop me off. I tried to make up the difference. … Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get to Victory Lane.”

Dillon, who had his own controversies later on in the season, responded to Elliott’s actions by saying,  “You’ve got to show respect. I hope he runs Iowa (next race on the CWTS schedule after Canadian Tire). He won’t finish the race.”

Again, Elliott went on Twitter to explain.

“What a day! Can’t thank everybody enough that supports our program. Really proud of my teams effort all weekend long!! As for the finish…”

Truly hate winning a race in a rough fashion like that, but we had an awesome truck with an opportunity for the win. I do feel like the(re)

..Was some really hard racing for the win and I feel like most guys would take a chance on the bottom as well.”

The bottom line is that Chase Elliott is a very talented racer and as a Hendrick Motorsports development driver, he is typically in the very best equipment. Whenever a driver runs at the front so often, there are going to be opportunities for controversy to occur. This driver has just happened to be at the center of the storm at a very young age.

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13 Responses to “Chase Elliott becoming no stranger to success…and controversy”

  1. T. Epley Says:
    December 11th, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    The boy’s gonna be big star in NASCAR. No way to get to the top without ruffling a few feathers along the way. He’s not one to wreck someone blatantly to get a win every time he gets on the track like some other “stars” I could mention. Chase Elliott is the real deal.

  2. RacingFan Says:
    December 11th, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    I always liked Bill. I felt he didn’t get the respect for his driving ability that he should have, because so much credit was given to his car and his brother Ernie. Obviously, the car was good when he could make up 2 laps at Talledega under green, but that wasn’t the whole story. I remember Junior Johnson (who certainly knows talent when he sees it) took Bill to a short track (dirt?) for some more experience and was impressed with his ability.

    I hope Chase has the same talent. Somehow, I feel that he should be driving a Ford, though. If Jeff Gordon and Ken Shrader would have stayed with Ford instead of joining Hendrick, it would have provided more even competition among manufacturers throughout the years.

    One last point. If the slight advantage of being able to position the weights is important enough for a rule (and a disqualification), how can NASCAR justify allowing drivers who weigh 110 pounds (you know who) to have a total weight of car and driver 30 pounds less than most others?

  3. Leto Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 4:06 am

    Chase’s run-in with Ty Dillon at CTMP wasn’t Chase’s fault. The video evidence doesn’t lie; Chase held his line going into the corner and Ty Dillon tried to block and ended up wrecked due to his decision.

    As for the Snowball Derby DQ, it was a really dumb rules violation (not the rule itself, the error on the part of Chase’s team/crew chief). Replacing a piece of lead with tungsten has several advantages it seems, but it really shouldn’t have ever happened. It’s disappointing that such a dumb mistake on their part cost him a win in one of the most prestigious races. I suppose you could probably make an argument that the tungsten vs lead difference may not have made a difference in the race given how he dominated, but a rules violation occurred and he was punished per the rule book.

    The most concerning part about Chase’s development plans are that he doesn’t have anything signed for 2014. Losing his primary sponsor in Aaron’s to MWR (with Aaron’s re-signing for every Cup event, they cut their non-Cup expenses) really looks like it might delay plans to run Chase full-time in Trucks or Nationwide, which is a shame. I am usually hesitant to say that someone is “deserving” of a ride in NASCAR, but Chase is easily a driver that truly is deserving of a ride in at least the Trucks, if not Nationwide.

  4. Douglas Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 6:12 am

    His kid is a super star! Really Glad Mr. Hendrick has his support behind this kid! I was really crushed when he failed Derby Post-Race inspection because he was going to make history but he is a super star neverless!!!

  5. Anne-Marie Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Looks like Chase failed the Chad Knaus school of cheatin because he got caught.

  6. Larry B. Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I always thought it was funny how Dale Earnhardt was involved in so much controversy. But then Dale Jr. came along and he has always seemed deadset on not being involved in controversy.
    Now, if you look back at Bill Elliott, he seemed deadset on avoiding controversy, too. And then along comes Chase and he seems to be in the middle of it a lot.
    Funny how things like this work out.

    (Revised with corrections)

  7. Steven Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Another kid with a silver spoon. Great.

  8. Troy VandeKamp Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 12:54 pm


    Per numerous articles I have read, the weight rule in Cup is weight including the driver. Drivers are weighed 2-3 times throughout the season as well as prior to Daytona Speedweeks. They take their weight and add that to what the car weighs when going through tech inspection.

    I wouldn’t say “Danica” has any more advantage than a young Jeff Gordon did, or Joey Lagano (when you compare them to the bigger drivers like Jimmy Spencer in the 90’s, Ryan Newman, Michael Waltrip (he’s skinny yes, but he’s also about a foot taller than most of the drivers, so I’m sure he outweighs them by 25 lbs or more).

    Tungsten is EXTREMELY expensive, makes sense to make it illegal (it is for Cup too I think) for the lower levels of racing (it’s a waste of $$$).

  9. RC Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Elliott should be in a Ford with Coors on the hood!

  10. RacingFan Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 6:37 pm


    NASCAR adds extra weight for drivers below 180 down to 140, and then stops. This means that any weight you are under 140 will mean less overall weight for your car and driver.

    Now, a *few* other drivers weigh less than 140, also. As far as I know, Mark Martin, at 125, is the lightest of the others. So he runs with 15 pounds less overall weight. But, Danica runs with 30 less pounds. That is an advantage at any handling track, and especially at a road course where the driver is on the wrong side (in effect the heavy side-because of body roll) because they travel clockwise. It probably has less effect at Daytona and Talledega, but even there the cars run faster on the straights than in the corner because the weight of the car and driver push down on the tires and bearings creating extra friction in them. They call this “scrubbing off speed” in the corners.

    Besides being 30 pounds lighter, even the extra 40 pounds that must be added for Danica can be positioned low in the frame and right against the left edge of the car. A 180 pound driver will have his 40 pounds up in the drivers seat (the center of his body) and also a ways from the left edge of the car.

    The advantage of tungsten is that you might need only a fraction of the length of bar to get the same weight. For example, instead of a 24 inch bar, you could use a 12 inch bar. Then the center of gravity would be only 6 inches in front of the rear wheel instead of 12 inches in front.

    The ability to position weight is important. There was an article in AutoWeek in November about drivers that might not get rides in Formula One this year because they are not light enough. F1 has a weight rule, too, but the ability to position the extra weight other than in the drivers seat is very important.

  11. Tony Geinzer Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I think what Chase Elliott has set is the Restart of the Georgia-North Carolina Short Track Wars from the 80s. But, with the Ethics Patrol out to play, being A Hendrick isn’t such a forward move, as I think someone who is NOT A Hendrick Employee will win the Sprint Cup next year. I would be so sure even a First Time Winner and/or a Rookie would win the Cup and we would have 1st Time Cup Champions until decades end.

  12. Troy VandeKamp Says:
    December 16th, 2013 at 1:06 pm


    You do realize that the “lack” of weight in the drivers seat can also have an effect on the cars handling don’t you?

    I’ll use another example. Sprint Cars (open wheel , 900 hp, 1400 lbs including the driver). the heavier drivers end up with a lower center of gravity and they can “balance” their car easier than a driver that has to add weight (because you are forbidden to add weight in the driver compartment in case it becomes dislodged).

    Just becuase Danica is 30 lbs less doesn’t make it an advantage for her (if anything, it’s probably a detriment as her “team” has 3 drivers that all outweigh her and the cars are engineered for a certain weight in the drivers seat).

    I personally think they need to either do away with the weight rule (if everyone has to add weight, obviously something is wrong with the weight rule, figure out what the car weighs with the smallest driver and no added weight. Make the rule be 150 lbs less than that #). You’ll still see teams add weight as they use the weight to set up the car (sometimes it’s an ADVANTAGE to weigh more than the minimum weight rule).

  13. RacingFan Says:
    December 17th, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Formula One is probably the most engineered and researched racing venue. I don’t know if Rich wants links posted, so Google “Driver weight in Formula One is becoming a concern” and “Autoweek” in the same search to read the brief article I mentioned.

    When Danica first started racing in the IRL (IndyCar), she had a weight advantage there, too. Robby Gordon eventually refused to race against her until the rule was changed. IRL did change the rule to take away the advantage, which angered Danica, because she said that certain body builds had advantages in other sports and she should be able to have one in racing. So, I don’t believe even Danica would agree with you, at least referring to IRL.

    Andy Petree, former crew chief for Dale Earnhardt, said this about drivers: “Talent being equal, I’ll take the less weight every day. It’s always an advantage.” He went on to say he didn’t know how much because it is hard to measure.

    My concern is not just about Danica. NASCAR needs to fix the rule so that, with continual engineering progress that is tending to equalize everything and make small differences more important, its drivers of the future don’t have to be built like race horse jockeys to succeed.

    Before engineering invaded NASCAR and the cars were also bigger and heavier, Buddy Baker, besides being a good commentator on TV, was a talented driver. I feel he would have had even more success if he hadn’t been so big. But his bigness probably caused many drivers to think twice about confronting him after a race.