When Chase Elliott crossed the finish line ahead of the pack on Sunday afternoon in the Geico 500 at Talladega Super Speedway there were actually several winners. While it was the second generation driver’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of 2019 and his fourth overall, there were numerous people who felt the impact of that win.
Going into the Talladega event, every one of the nine races held this season had been won by drivers from only two organizations. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex, Jr. had scored a total of six triumphs for the Toyota team of Joe Gibbs Racing while Brad Keselowski and reigning MENCS champion Joey Logano had earned a total of three checkered flags in the Fords prepared by Team Penske.
Elliott’s win in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet proved that another organization can win, so in that sense, the No. 9 car’s victory had to come as somewhat of a relief to every other team in the garage area. The total domination of the 2019 power houses was finally broken, giving hope that others might also find victory lane in the near future.
And just like the fact that a different company had its car pull into a NASCAR victory lane, so did a new manufacturer. Chevrolet not only won its first race of 2019, thus rooting Toyota and Ford out, but the American-based car maker scored its first win since last October. As a matter of fact, the “Bow Tie” brand only won four times in all of 2018 with Elliott amassing three of those.
But more than just the organizations previously dominated by JGR and Penske and a different manufacturer won on Sunday. NASCAR itself was also a winner.
Elliott is, in all likelihood, the sport’s most popular driver and a representative of the new generation that has been expected to take leadership of the top level of stock car racing. It never hurts for any sport to have its most beloved participant be in contention for wins and championships. Just ask those who run professional golf about that following the recent win by Tiger Woods in the Masters.
And speaking of championships, Elliott assured himself of a place in the NASCAR Playoffs later this season. NASCAR wins again as the sanctioning body and its tracks now have weeks to promote the fact that the No. 9 machine’s place in the final ten race run toward the title is a virtual certainty,
And finally, the fans who count Elliott as their favorite won in Talladega. It’s never a bad thing for the fan base to stay engaged. Having the same few drivers, organizations, and manufacturers win week after week tends to let the air out of the balloon and cause some to lose interest.
So far in 2019, attendance and television ratings for NASCAR have seen a bit of an uptick. A win by Chase Elliott can only serve to keep the momentum going in a positive direction.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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