NASCAR Champ Chase Elliott Opening More Doors01/24/2021
Chase Elliott, 2020 NASCAR Cup champion, has nothing to prove, but he insists on proving anyway that he loves racing – any kind of racing – whether it is pavement late models at the Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Florida, in December; dirt midgets at the Chili Bowl last week, and this week, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Daytona Prototypes.
“I just want to broaden my horizons,” he said in a video interview. Being a Cup champion – not to mention a very good driver, be it on an oval or a road course – has opened some doors to rides in other forms of motorsports, and Elliott is walking through as many as he can.
He had experience in the Snowball Derby, winning in 2011 and 2015. But he was a raw rookie in the dirt midget race, and he’s brand-new to the IMSA Cadillac sports car, which shares next to nothing with his Cup Chevrolet Camaro except for a GM V-8 engine – which is in the wrong end of the car.
Elliott will be racing the number 31 Whelen Cadillac, a teammate to seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who is having a “ton of fun” in his Cadillac. But Johnson has sports car experience on the Daytona road course, and Elliott just has a lot of simulator time, which he hopes will translate to the track.
Johnson is racing Sunday in IMSAs Motul Pole 100, a 100-minute race that concludes the Roar Before the 24 mandatory test at Daytona International Speedway that will set the field for the 2021 Rolex 24 at Daytona next weekend. Elliott won’t be racing, though – only two drivers are allowed and Elliott’s more experienced teammates, Felipe Nasr and Mike Conway, will be sharing the seat.
The number 48 that Johnson and Japanese co-driver Kamui Kobayashi are driving is likely a one-shot one-race team for Action Express, while the number 31 that Elliott is in will be running the full season, and consequently will be looking for a good points finish next Sunday. And Elliott is fully aware of that.
“I respect that these guys have a full season ahead, and I’m going to try not to mess it up for them. I just want to try and learn and hopefully help them go for a win. I just hope I don’t slow them down too much,” the self-effacing Elliott said.
“I’ll happily play my part, wherever I fall in with that.”
How do you think Chase Elliott will do in his first ever Rolex 24 at Daytona? Comment below.
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