For the first time in his short, five-year NASCAR Cup Series career, Chase Elliott is a champion.
The 24-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver dominated Sunday’s season finale at Phoenix Raceway, leading a race-high of 154 total laps, on his way to his first Cup title. He’s the third-youngest driver to win the championship with his 25th birthday later this month.
Elliott started from the back of the field Sunday because his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet failed pre-race inspection twice. But he made his way to the front and beat fellow championship contenders Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin, who finished second, third and fourth respectively. Jimmie Johnson, who is now retired from full-time racing, finished fifth.
NASCAR’s reigning most popular driver just keeps adding to his family’s legacy too.
His father, Bill Elliott, won the 1988 Cup Series title, and now, they’re only the third father-son duo to be NASCAR champions. The Elliotts join Lee and Richard Petty and Ned and Dale Jarrett in that exclusive NASCAR family club.
And he shared a delightfully touching moment with his mom and dad after winning.
Elliott won his fifth race of the 2020 season, and it was his 11th career checkered flag. But to win the championship, he didn’t have to win the race. However, as recent years have demonstrated, the champion and race winner are often the same driver.
“I’m not sure I still even know,” Elliott said immediately after the race when asked if he can describe his emotions. “I’m at a loss for words. This is unbelievable. Oh my gosh. We did it. We did it! That’s all I’ve gotta tell you. Unreal.”
Elliott said in the final laps with the other three championship contenders chasing him, he was just waiting for the caution flag to come out and potentially create chaos on a restart. The caution never came, and Elliott remained in disbelief on pit road.
“Unbelievable,” Elliott continued. “I just never would have thought that this year would have gone like it has. NASCAR Cup Series champion? Are you kidding me? Unreal.”
When asked about adding to his family’s legacy, Elliott said: “Oh, it’s unbelievable. All you can dream for is opportunity, and I’ve been very fortunate to have that over the years. And that’s all thanks to great people.”