Sunday, November 9, 2014

What Does Chase Elliott's Championship Mean for NASCAR?

           Chase Elliott is proving to the NASCAR world that he and other drivers his age are ready to be competitive with veterans in NASCAR’s national touring series. Chase Elliott clenched the Nationwide Series championship this weekend – another step in his climb to the Sprint Cup Series. And so many drivers his age are right behind him as they are at different stages of breaking into the three national series-Ben Rhodes, Darrell Wallace Jr, Ryan Blaney, Cameron Hayley, Cole Custer, Erik Jones, Jeb Burton, Kenzie Ruston, Gray Gaulding, and John Hunter Nemechek – just to name a few.  Drivers that were once the young guns in NASCAR – Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards – are now the veterans in the sport. Chase’s championship shows the NASCAR world that this new crop of drivers is ready to compete with veterans.

            This youth movement isn’t coming - it’s here. The truck series race at Phoenix is proof of this transformation as over 15 of the drivers in the race were 22 years old or younger. In Nationwide and Sprint Cup, the number of youth drivers trying to make a name for themselves is growing – Dylan Kwasneski, Kyle Larson, Ryan Reed, Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, and Ty Dillon. In the coming years, these are going to be the names you hear every weekend competing for wins. They are going to be the names that are setting records and winning championships.

            Chase’s championship isn’t only good for these drivers, but it’s good for the fans too. Most people look around at a NASCAR race and think that there are a lot of fans at the track. When I look around, I see plenty of adult fan, but not enough teenage fans. How do we get younger fans interested in NASCAR? It’s a question with no simple solution – but fresh, young competitors will help. Veteran fans are re-energized by the presence of the younger drivers.  Younger fans like to see racers they can relate to and inspire them to keep chasing their dreams, whatever they may be.With this new crop of drivers, comes a new crop of fans just like them – young and energetic.

            Chase Elliott is the youngest NASCAR national series champion ever. His last name was already legendary, but Chase is going to create his own legend. Some of the young drivers breaking into NASCAR may not have well-known names yet, but someday they will. NASCAR veterans look out…the future of our sport is here.