By David Morgan, Associate Editor
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Not since the days when the Earnhardt family reigned supreme on the restrictor plate tracks has a cheer from the crowd been as a loud as the one that echoed throughout the Talladega Superspeedway grandstands after Chase Elliott scored his first victory on the 2.66-mile superspeedway in Sunday’s GEICO 500.
While Atlanta Motor Speedway is technically Elliott’s home track, being situated near his home town of Dawsonville, Georgia, the fans at Talladega made it clear their track is just as much a home for him as anywhere else, cheering wildly for their new favorite son each time he took the lead during the course of the 188-lap event.
The son of 16-time Most Popular Driver and former Cup Series champion Bill Elliott has been popular in his own right since entering NASCAR, even winning his own Most Popular Driver Award last year, but his Talladega triumph took things to a whole new level, as the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will admit.
“It was awesome,” Elliott said. “Just the post-race was unbelievable. I’ve never had a crowd just felt like in the palm of your hands is how it felt. You get excited, they get excited. You walk, they don’t say anything. You pump your arms up, they get pumped up. That’s just something that I’ve never really experienced. That’s one of the coolest moments I feel like of my racing career.
“It’s days like today, those moments, that you’ll cherish and never forget. Certainly I won’t. These races are too hard to win to not enjoy those moments.
“I’ll forever remember getting out of the car and experiencing that. There’s nobody to thank but the folks watching for that moment, making me feel special. It being close to home had a lot to do with that I think. They made me feel at home today, which was pretty cool.”
Moments like Sunday are electrifying for all in attendance and with four Cup Series wins now on his resume, as well as other victories and championships in the lower divisions, the future is likely to hold more of those scenes with Elliott showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.