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 EDT

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. NASCAR AMERICA Minute: The legacy of Jeff Gordon (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Cheez-It 355 - Practice Getty Images

    The NASCAR AMERICA crew talks about Gordon’s history of success at Indianapolis and throughout his NASCAR career.

  2. Petty, Childress, JTG, Furniture Row teams testing at Watkins Glen

    Jul 28, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT

    Cheez-It 355 at The Glen Getty Images

    Chase hopefuls target the Glen’s road course event on Aug. 10 as a chance to get into the post-season.

  3. Team planes for Stewart-Haas, JGR collide at North Carolina airport

    Jul 28, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Credit: @Jesse_Sanders_ Credit: @Jesse_Sanders_

    No one was injured Sunday night when a Joe Gibbs Racing plane clipped a parked Stewart-Haas Racing plane while returning home from the Brickyard 400.

  4. Team Penske trio has mixed fortunes in Brickyard 400

    Jul 28, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 Getty Images

    Joey Logano finishes fifth, while Brad Keselowski (12th) and IndyCar’s Juan Pablo Montoya (23rd) falter after starting toward the front of the grid.

  5. IndyCar: Winning’s been a curse, not a blessing, over last six races

    Jul 28, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    TORTrafficJam Getty Images

    The winners of the last six IndyCar races haven’t had much in the way of results in subsequent races.

  6. Jeff Gordon talks Brickyard 400 victory on The Dan Patrick Show (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Federated Auto Parts 400 Getty Images

    The five-time Brickyard winner discusses his big win and other topics, including whether he’d allow his young daughter to become a NASCAR driver.

  7. IMSA: Indianapolis thoughts and observations

    Jul 28, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    IMSAatIMS Getty Images

    Two drivers from the 1995 Indianapolis 500 finish 1-2 in the 2014 Brickyard Grand Prix, while the race features a star turn from somebody born in 1995…

  8. Sauber close, but no cigar in terms of first 2014 points in Hungary

    Jul 28, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

    SutilHUN Getty Images

    Both Adrian Sutil, Esteban Gutierrez run top-10 in Hungary, and both fail to get Sauber on the scoreboard.

  9. NHRA: Courtney Force becomes winningest female in Funny Car with Sonoma win

    Jul 28, 2014, 10:27 AM EDT

    ForcesSonoma AP

    Courtney Force beats father John in final for record-setting NHRA Funny Car win in Sonoma.

  10. No one deserved to lose the 2014 Hungarian GP

    Jul 28, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    HUNPodium AP

    Despite the facial expressions of those second and third to Daniel Ricciardo on Sunday, each of the top three would have deserved the Hungarian GP win.

  11. Clint Bowyer fails to realize IndyCar doesn’t have push-to-pass on ovals

    Jul 28, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    BowyerIndy Getty Images

    IndyCars have push-to-pass, but not on ovals. It’s all good, Clint.

  12. Hulkenberg apologizes after hitting teammate

    Jul 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Nico Hulkenberg AP

    German driver retires for the first time in 2014 after hitting Sergio Perez during the Hungarian Grand Prix.

  13. NASCAR: Is Edwards a lame duck or could he still bag 2014 title?

    Jul 28, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    EdwardsRoush AP

    The mindset of Carl Edwards and the No. 99 team will be key down the stretch, knowing they’re heading their separate ways at the end of the year.

  14. Kimi Raikkonen confident of improvements at Ferrari

    Jul 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary Getty Images

    Finn underlines his belief in the team to turn things around in 2014.

  15. McLaren gamble backfires for Button and Magnussen

    Jul 28, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Decision to fit wet weather tires in anticipation of more rain scuppers hopes of big points in Hungary.

  16. Gordon’s Brickyard legacy superb, but can’t be compared to other Indy legends

    Jul 27, 2014, 7:52 PM EDT

    Jeff Gordon AP

    A world of differences make it impossible to weigh Jeff Gordon’s accomplishments at Indy against those of A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Al Unser Sr., and Michael Schumacher.

  17. Kyle Larson has solid outing in first Brickyard 400

    Jul 27, 2014, 6:52 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images) (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

    INDIANAPOLIS – Jeff Gordon gave himself an early 43rd birthday present with Sunday’s Brickyard 400 win. Kyle Larson also gave himself an early birthday present – his 22nd will be Thursday – with a solid seventh-place finish in his first Brickyard.

  18. Joe Gibbs Racing has great overall Brickyard run, but Denny Hamlin’s car could have issues

    Jul 27, 2014, 6:13 PM EDT

    joe gibbs AP

    INDIANAPOLIS – It wasn’t quite the 1-2-3 finish they might have hoped for, but it was almost just as good for Joe Gibbs Racing’s three drivers in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch finished second to winner Jeff Gordon, followed by Denny Hamlin in third and Matt Kenseth was fourth.

  19. Kyle Busch picks up 3rd runner-up finish in last 4 races

    Jul 27, 2014, 5:41 PM EDT

    Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 Getty Images

    Rowdy continues his strong performance as of late with another P2 at Indianapolis.

  20. Kasey Kahne unable to hang on late at the Brickyard

    Jul 27, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    Kasey Kahne AP

    Kasey Kahne led a race-high 70 laps, but lost the Brickyard 400 lead to Jeff Gordon on a restart with 16 laps to go and faded to sixth.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

Jeff Gordon's historic Brickyard 400 win

Featured video

Inside the Hungarian GP
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. McMurray (1202)
  2. D. Hamlin (1010)
  3. T. Bodine (979)
  4. K. Busch (939)
  5. C. Edwards (900)