Chase Elliott keeps things in perspective and keeps a little more fun along the way

Factor: Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR author

Chase Elliott did not succeed on the track this year as well as last season. But he could have had as much, if not more, fun.

Many equate winning with fun, so that kind of thinking would be easy to dismiss. But anyone who watched Elliott all this season saw that he was more relaxed and relaxed, even though he had fewer wins (two rather than five) and was ranked worse (fourth rather than first).

Even in the midst of Kevin Harvick’s dust – when he was furious – Elliott had self-confidence and an atmosphere that didn’t seem to be afraid for a moment to talk about it. Of course, when he got his last laugh, he offered a “happy offseason and happy Christmas” line that continues into 2021 history.

It would make sense if winning the 2021 Cup – relieving the pressure associated with carrying and producing a famous racing name – was the reason for the more liberal Elliott, who just turned 26 last week.

But he didn’t see it as a reason.

“I would like to say that, but I am not quite sure [the Cup title] has contributed to it, “Elliott said.” I think it’s probably just aging. Year after year, you learn new things, you see things a little differently, or you have a slightly different perspective.

“You use it to heal yourself.”

Many drivers judge their season not only by their winnings but also by the chance to compete for the Cup title as one of the four finalists in the championship. For the second year in a row, Elliott was able to do it.

“Our season was stable,” he said. “I am really proud of my team that has just arrived [the title race at] Phoenix and shot.

“For me, it’s the group you want to belong to … If you get yourself into that position, more often than not, your days will end up for you.”

As part of Elliott’s fun, he wore a Fedora-type cowboy hat at the NASCAR awards ceremony last week in Nashville.

“I got it from the hat shop and used it because I wanted to,” he said. “Why not? I was the only one who had a hat on. I sure thought someone else would have a hat on, but they didn’t.

“I was a lonely guy with a hat. But it’s good. I like it. It’s a nice, navy blue hat, and I enjoy it, and that’s the only thing.”

Of course, Elliott remains a fan favorite. He was voted the most popular driver in the sport for the fourth year in a row. It’s an award his father Bill won 16 times.

“It’s very humiliating,” Elliott said. “Every year that goes by, we go to a new city or a new place – Road America this year. I think about that event and the weekend, and all the people who were there to support us were amazing.

“I am as guilty as anyone [in that] I often don’t realize how much you can influence or how much someone pays attention to what you do. ”

Elliott is about to start a contract year, but Hendrick Motorsports is typically trying to work a year ahead and there is no feeling that Elliott is shopping. He has had a contract with Hendrik since 2011, when he was 15 years old.

The team recently announced that Hooters will be sponsoring Elliott for three races a year until 2024, a sign that he should continue the extension soon, at least until 2024, if not longer.

“It’s a plan,” Hendrick said. “We’ve talked about it, and it’s a plan.”

“I’m trying to have fun,” Elliott said. “I’ve tried to be relaxed and kind of myself. I love or hate it, I’m just kind of myself and I’ve tried to do a better job to enjoy all the moments that come.

“I understand that none of these things are eternal. I’m super, super, super lucky to do what I do and travel the country and race cars for my living.”

He has taken the opportunity over the past couple of years to compete more, experimenting with dwarf and sprint cars in the dirt, and competed in the RallyCross NASCAR Awards the following days. He knows that many do not have these opportunities.

“When you sit down and just look at the big plan of life and what I’m doing and what you could do, you just have to put it into perspective sometimes.” Elliott said.

“I’ve tried to really enjoy everything about work and tried to make the most of my time here.”

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Think out loud

NASCAR’s transition from streaming weekly and regional series to FloRacing is good.

When Trackpass started through NBC, it was trying to build a fan base. FloRacing, which televises hundreds of events (including the Chili Bowl and all Eldora Speedway events), already has a deep, deep fan base. The FloSports platform also has a wide range of sports, giving FloRacing a significant email list that allows you to create orders and promote events.

Fans who want NASCAR content will have a higher cost, but many who watch these series events would probably pay to watch other races around the country as well. Right now, it’s a good move for NASCAR to reveal a regional series to more people.

It will be interesting to see the growth of the Race Team Alliance Racing America website. RTA, a consortium of racing teams trying to harness the power of the team’s owners, bought Speed51 more than a year ago and gave it streaming rights to various short-track events.

NASCAR entered into a new contract with FloRacing because of its depth, but if RTA increases its production capacity and coverage, would RTA make an offer for these rights? And would NASCAR want to do business with the Cup owners?

Social spotlight

Status of the day

Kyle Larson led 2,581 laps in 2021, most notably Jeff Gordon’s 2,610 laps in 1995. Hendrick Motorsports led 4,119 laps in 2021, the second largest in the modern era and the most since Junior Johnson and Associates in 1972.

They said it

“Writing was very emotional. When you read a speech on a teleprompter, it’s hard to get that feeling out.” – Kyle Larson in his championship speech

Bob Pockrass has spent decades dealing with motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500 series. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after working for ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Subscribe to the FOX Sports NASCAR newsletter with Bob Pockrass!

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