Chase Elliott finally did it Sunday, winning at Watkins Glen for his first career NASCAR Cup victory, and as he noted right after the race, there will be some partying tonight.
But in many ways, Elliott isn’t the only one celebrating this victory. The son of 1988 NASCAR Cup champion Bill Elliott — who was voted the sport’s most popular driver a record 16 times — the 22-year-old Elliott grew up in the sport. Just as likeable and approachable as his father, he’s already been hailed as the favorite to win the sport’s most popular driver award this season.
Yet in three NASCAR Cup seasons Elliott had fallen short of victory, despite many close calls. He’d finished second a heartbreaking eight times coming into Watkins Glen, his 99th career start.
But after Elliott held off a fierce challenge from defending NASCAR Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. on the final lap, he finally has that first victory.
And let the celebration begin. In the Elliott family’s longtime hometown of Dawsonville, Ga., the fire department sounded the siren to commemorate the victory.
One of the most underrated “traditions” in all of sports… #NASCAR https://t.co/0tEgL41hXz
— Brandon Thompson (@BThompson_36) August 5, 2018
In the drivers’ motorhome lot at Watkins Glen, Elliott’s friends decorated his motorhome.
Something’s a little different. ?@chaseelliott’s friends have already decorated his motorhome after today’s win. pic.twitter.com/tTw8MzKVgK
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 5, 2018
Social media filled with tributes and congratulations for Elliott’s big day, including these tweets from NASCAR driver Kyle Larson and Truex’s crew chief, Cole Pearn.
Congratulations @chaseelliott! Been a long long time coming!! Kinda cool it took us both 99 races to win.
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) August 5, 2018
Close one today, @MartinTruex_Jr drove the wheels off it. Happy to see #redneckjesus v2.0 get his first W though that group deserved it.
— Cole Pearn (@colepearn) August 5, 2018
Elliott’s victory clinched him a spot in NASCAR’s playoffs. As many media members and fans predicted, this first victory could be the icebreaker that leads to more wins this season.
I have little reason to believe Chase Elliott is done winning races this season with the way those Hendrick cars have run over the past few weeks. We all knew Camaro adjustment would take some time, but they seem to have figured it out right before the playoffs. #NASCAR
— Matthew Mayer (@MatthewMayerCBS) August 5, 2018
Now, as Elliott said, it’s time to party.
Ironically, I was in Dawsonville, Georgia last night.
Texted @chaseelliott for guidance on where to find the town’s coldest colbeer.
He earned one today.
Proud of that kid.
— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) August 5, 2018