Egg-shaped with long straightaways and short quick turns, Darlington Raceway eats up and spits out even the most experienced drivers.
No one told Chase Elliott that last year.
The then 18-year-old driver made a mad dash from sixth with two laps remaining to visit Victory Lane in his first-ever start at the track “Too Tough To Tame.” That day, Elliott defeated NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stalwarts Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.
“Darlington is a special place for me and my family and last season was an unbelievable feeling,” said Elliott whose father, Bill Elliott, won five times at Darlington in his Hall of Fame career. “Words cannot describe what it meant to me.”
Elliott gets the chance to defend last season’s Darlington win on national television in Saturday’s VFW Sports Clips Help a Hero 200 (3:30 p.m. on NBC). In the process, he will also attempt to close the 16-point gap that separates him from leader Chris Buescher in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings as he tries to earn his second straight series championship.
Championship points and wins aren’t the only items on the line for Elliott. If he finishes higher than Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon and Brian Scott, he’ll win an extra $100,000 as part of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash program. The No. 9 JR Motorsports driver has shown good form down the summer stretch with top-10 finishes in his last seven starts.
“I want to make the most of the opportunity this weekend and try and continue to gain in the championship point column,” Elliott said. “It’s definitely cool going for $100,000 too in the (NASCAR) XFINITY (Series) Dash 4 Cash program.”