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Volume 25 No. 61
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NASCAR Hoping Elliott's Win The Start Of Something Special

Some think Elliott could take Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s place as NASCAR's most popular driver
Photo: getty images

NASCAR is hoping that Chase Elliott's first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win last weekend at Watkins Glen will "open the floodgates" for the 22-year old driver, according to Drew Davison of the Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM. NASCAR is in "dire need of having a young superstar -- that wins" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/9). MOTORSPORT.com's Jim Utter wrote Elliott's win could not have come at a better time, "nor in a better fashion." Elliott's win was a "shot in the arm for Hendrick Motorsports but also for NASCAR itself." As much as some like to say NASCAR has "lost its older fans, fans today gravitate to the storylines that connect the sport to its past." MOTORSPORT.com's Kenny Bruce wrote on a scale of one to 10, Elliott's win was "at least" a nine. He is "one of the 'young' guns NASCAR is hoping will contend for wins" on a regular basis and "build a name/reputation for themselves." MOTORSPORT.com's Nick DeGroot wrote with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s retirement, Elliott will "more than likely take up the mantle as the sport's Most Popular Driver," so it is "huge for him to finally breakthrough" and get his first win. The reaction from the crowd "said it all." MOTORSPORT.com's Tim Southers wrote this was "huge and couldn't have come at a better time" for Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR (MOTORSPORT.com, 8/8).

INSIDER TIPS: Earnhardt said that he "believes today's drivers have plenty of personality" and wonders why that "hasn't increased the sport's popularity." He said, "There are a lot of really colorful personalities, there really are. The drivers are all engaged in social media with the fans way more than I did when I was young. It shouldn't feel that way, but it does." Earnhardt has watched every race this year, and said that the "racing isn't the problem." He suggested that "concerts the night before races and carnivals outside the tracks" could help draw more fans to tracks on race weekends. He added that he would "like to see venues become more appealing to young people" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/9).

POOR TIMING: In Richmond, Randy Hallman wrote NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France's DWI arrest delivered a "major buzzkill" to the sport. The "hot topic" about NASCAR this week has been neither Elliott's win, which "gave the sport a rare uptick in year-over-year TV ratings," nor the upcoming race in Michigan. Shows that "rarely mention NASCAR" are showing France's "grainy police mug shot." NASCAR's usual "marketing drumbeat" had to "slog through the France news" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 8/9).