Skip to content

With second straight Nationwide win, Chase Elliott melts the normally cold, cruel heart of Darlington’s Lady In Black

Apr 11, 2014, 10:57 PM EST

American Ethanol 200 Getty Images

The Lady in Black – a.k.a. Darlington Raceway – hates almost everybody. That’s why so many of NASCAR’s best over the last five decades have been brought to their knees by her curse-like power and icy demeanor.

But at the same time, she has been known to have a few favorites.

She absolutely loved NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson, gracing him with a record 10 trips to victory lane during his Winston Cup career.

It’s also pretty clear the Lady likes Jeff Gordon (seven wins, most of any active driver at Darlington).

On Friday night, the old grand dame of NASCAR racetracks practically melted into a blushing schoolgirl, because the way young Chase Elliott won the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 Nationwide Series race proves that she’s quickly gotten sweet on him, too.

Competing in his first-ever race at Darlington – the same place his father Bill won at five times in his illustrious Winston Cup career – the younger Elliott ignored things like Darlington’s hardest walls in all of NASCAR, drove like he didn’t need the mandatory yellow rookie stripe, and he barely walked away with an infamous Darlington stripe, as well.

And when the Lady in Black wiggled her finger, as if to tell young Chase to follow her to victory lane, the dark-haired Elliott returned her gaze with an impish grin. It was enough to melt the Lady’s heart as she cheered him on to the last lap win over another Elliott – Elliott Sadler.

While it may be hard to believe that an 18-year-old kid drove the way he did Friday night, it’s also clear that this is not just any regular 18-year-old kid.

He’s the progeny of one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers ever, a likely prospect to be a first-ballot vote next month into the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2015 induction class.

And it’s pretty clear that Awesome Bill from Dawsonville taught his young son some very valuable lessons, because the way Chase rallied forward from sixth place to  the checkered flag in the last two laps wasn’t just him, it was vintage Bill, as well. As team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. whispered off-camera about Elliott to ESPN announcer Dave Burns, “He’s REALLY good.”

“Holy cow, man, that was crazy,” Elliott said in the kind of fashion you’d expect a guy who is still an 18-year-old high school senior to respond. “Here in the stands and at home on TV, that had to be fun to watch. I know it was fun to be part of (as a driver).

“It just worked out our way and away we went. … This is just unreal.”

With his win last week at Texas, Elliott becomes the seventh driver in Nationwide Series history to earn his first career wins in back-to-back fashion. Even more, in the first seven NNS races of his career, Elliott has two wins, another top-five, three top-10s and his worst finish thus far was 15th in the season opener at Daytona.

Even when Sadler got loose on the final lap and threatened to take out his young rival, the younger Elliott did exactly what his father used to do behind the wheel: kept the pedal mashed to the floor and hung on for dear life.

“I can’t believe it,” Elliott said. “I can’t believe last week (at Texas), much less here at Darlington. This truly is a dream come true.

“This is a place that I’ve already loved watching races (at), probably my favorite racetrack to watch a race at for a long, long time, and just to come and be a part of this race is unbelievable. But to come and win this thing is a feeling I’ll never forget.”

Darlington also carries the nickname of the Track Too Tough to Tame. But Elliott certainly tamed it with his impressive win.

You know what, maybe the Lady In Black just has a thing for the Elliott family. After all, in 52 career starts there, Chase’s father Bill compiled an outstanding record of five wins, 22 top-fives and 35 top-10 finishes.

And with the way the younger Elliott drove more like his dad than an average 18-year-old kid Friday night, it proved without a doubt that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Right, Lady in Black?

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. Big Australian V8 Supercars shocker: Shane van Gisbergen heads to Triple Eight for 2016

    Mar 5, 2015, 6:44 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    “The Giz” heads to V8SC’s biggest team in a three-year deal as the team’s third car.

  2. IndyCar: Happy 20th birthday to Ganassi rising star Sage Karam

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:23 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    “SK$” turns 20. Sage Karam will make his second IndyCar start at season-opening race in St. Petersburg.

  3. Jean-Eric Vergne chasing “amazing” home win for Andretti at Miami ePrix

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Formula E Championship - Buenos Aires Getty Images

    JEV wants to clinch Andretti a home win when Formula E hits U.S. shores in Miami later this month.

  4. More movements in GP2, GP3, Formula Renault 3.5 for 2015

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

    © GP2 Media Service © GP2 Media Service

    All of the latest news from some of F1’s most prominent junior championships.

  5. GP2: Marlon Stockinger confirmed at Status Grand Prix

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    _W2Q1556

    Filipino-Swiss driver moves from Formula Renault 3.5 for 2015.

  6. Hamilton: “I want to be better” in bid for third title

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Hamilton 262a Getty Images

    British driver sends out an ominous statement of intent ahead of the first race of the year in Australia on March 15.

  7. F1 2015 team preview: Williams Martini Racing

    Mar 5, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi Getty Images

    Can Massa and Bottas pick up where they left off at the end of 2014?

  8. Manor passes final crash tests ahead of Australian GP

    Mar 5, 2015, 12:07 PM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-RUS Getty Images

    Team now all set to race in Australia on March 15 after passing the FIA crash tests.

  9. Formula E: Scott Speed in at Andretti for Miami ePrix

    Mar 5, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    Bojangles' Southern 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Add another American to the Formula E roster for 2015 as Speed replaces Marco Andretti for the first of two home races.

  10. Reports: Giedo van der Garde steps up legal action against Sauber F1 Team

    Mar 5, 2015, 10:30 AM EST

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Dutch driver reportedly seeking an urgent court order that would get him on the grid for the upcoming Australian Grand Prix.

  11. Ecclestone: Decision on German GP due this weekend

    Mar 5, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany Getty Images

    With neither Hockenheim nor the Nurburgring prepared to host the race in 2015, the outlook is bleak for a German Grand Prix.

  12. IndyCar: Arrow Electronics to sponsor Hinchcliffe; number changes to 5

    Mar 5, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    New sponsor, new number (again) for Hinchcliffe’s 2015 IndyCar campaign.

  13. Honda’s IndyCar aero kit launch plan comes into focus

    Mar 4, 2015, 5:14 PM EST

    Honda Indy Toronto - Day 1 Getty Images

    Honda hints at more about its aero kits, while tossing out two dates of note.

  14. PWC: 2015 driver/team rundown, GTS

    Mar 4, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    WC

    Look through the Pirelli World Challenge field continues with a look at GTS.

  15. F1 2015 team preview: Red Bull Racing

    Mar 4, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    Ricciardo Kvyat 43 Getty Images

    Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat look to lead the team in the post-Vettel era.

  16. Justin Wilson has first ride of 2015 confirmed, back with Shank at Sebring

    Mar 4, 2015, 12:40 PM EST

    GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma - Day 1 Getty Images

    Justin Wilson returns to Michael Shank Racing for Sebring one-off.

  17. Manor Marussia F1 confirms trip to Melbourne

    Mar 4, 2015, 12:09 PM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-RUS-PRACTICE Getty Images

    Manor Marussia F1 to make trip to Melbourne after all.

  18. Agag: Formula E off to “incredible start” heading into U.S. swing

    Mar 4, 2015, 10:15 AM EST

    Agag2 Getty Images

    FIA Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag outlines goals for upcoming two U.S. races, and recaps the first four thus far.