The question around Chase Elliott is whether his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup victory, Sunday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, satiated the appetite of the beast or has simply made it hungrier for more.
It is almost assuredly the latter.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Bill Elliott, who was voted the most popular driver a record 16 times, the affable, 22-year-old Chase Elliott quickly became a fan favorite during his first three seasons as a full-time driver in the Cup series. Chase Elliott is favored to win Most Popular Driver for 2018, and fans suffered with him through eight second-place finishes until he got his breakthrough victory in his 99th Monster Energy start.
“Holy cow, I don’t know what to say — just so thrilled, so emotional, so much relief,” Elliott, the 2016 Monster Energy Rookie of the Year, said Sunday. “Working on three years, I hadn’t won one. I came here with a great opportunity today, and I was able to get it done.”
Getting it done, however, shows only that Elliott is capable of living up to the high expectations that come from being a legacy driver.
Like Kyle Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr. before him, Chase Elliott began his career with the pressure of having the surname of a NASCAR legend. That can simultaneously be a blessing and a burden.
Bill Elliott, who worked as a spotter for Chase on Sunday, had 44 victories and won the 1998 Cup championship over a 37-year run in the Cup Series that did not officially end until 2012.
Chase Elliott has his first and everyone, including himself, is already looking for the next one and the one after that and the one after …
“That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, and I just want you all to know that,” Elliott told a crowd at Watkins Glen that went wild after his win. “And I am very grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
“Let’s go get some more.”
Next up: Consumer Energy 400, 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Television: NBCSN. Streaming on NBCSports. 2017 winner: Kyle Larson.