The new face of NASCAR circled Phoenix Raceway for a celebratory lap of his finest achievement. Chase Elliott, NASCAR’s most popular driver, was now a Cup champion, too.
He came upon teammate Jimmie Johnson, who banged doors with Elliott. Then the seven-time champion, in his final race, gave Elliott a fist bump. The torch has officially been passed.
This is NASCAR’s Camelot. Elliott did what Dale Earnhardt Jr. could not and parlayed the popularity gleamed off his Hall of Fame father into a NASCAR championship.
The son of “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” Georgia solidified himself as the new face of Hendrick Motorsports, of Chevrolet and of NASCAR on the day the greatest driver of this generation called it a career. Elliott drove from the back of the field to victory lane at Phoenix to win for Hendrick and Chevrolet, which had been shut out of the title race since Johnson won his seventh and final crown in 2016.
“I just never would have thought that this year would have gone like it has,” Elliott said. “I mean, NASCAR Cup Series champion, are you kidding me? Unreal.”
He shared a long hug with Johnson, who joined Elliott for the victory celebration. “Oh my gosh, I mean, to share a moment like that, Jimmie’s last race, to win and lock the championship,” said Elliott, “those are moments you can only dream, you know, and this is a dream.
“Just hoping I don’t ever wake up.”
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