NASCAR: Elliott Has Talent, But Lacks Star-Power Right Now

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

NASCAR’s rising star Chase Elliott might have the talent to impact the sport, but he lacks the star-power to dominate it.

Put some personality into it.

That’s the phrase I would be yelling at Chase Elliott if I was the director of his latest NAPA Autoparts commercial. Not only does the Sprint Cup rookie show little to no personality during his screen time in the 30 second commercial, he is also upstaged at the end of the commercial by his more popular Hendrick Motor Sports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr,, Who doesn’t want to put a 24 on it.

Although the commercial was probably a failure from the moment go, especially with the tacky infomercial style that was used during the television spot, Elliot still should have tried to inject some personality into his lines and moved around a bit. Unfortunately for viewers that were suckered into viewing the spot, Elliot didn’t come across very personable and it could hurt him In the long run.

Sure, most of a driver’s success in NASCAR is determined by their talent and determination behind the wheel, but even the best drivers need a sponsor or two to keep them funded and on the track during the season. In exchange for sponsoring a driver and funding their efforts on the track, the driver is expected to be a sort of spokesperson for the brand they are representing.

While Chase Elliott is a very marketable driver at this point in his career, especially due to his racing lineage, age and good performances on the track, his stale personality and dry humor make him seem not very relatable and even shy. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want to be in front of the camera doing commercials and just wishes he could race without having to deal with that aspect of the sport.

Whether fans want to admit it or not, that’s going to spell trouble for the rookie in the future. Once he ages, his performance on the track declines and people stop caring about who his father was, Chase Elliott will become no more marketable than the dirt track rookie struggling to find a full time sponsor. Even worse, his options for sponsors will be severely limited by his dry personality and blandness.

Focusing on Elliott’s positives for a second, he does have a very determined aura about him. He never talks negative about his team, he always finds the good in every performance and he takes responsibility for when he made a mistake.  Not only is that a good character trait for Elliott on the track, especially when he has his inevitable run-in with a veteran during his career, it makes him relatable in a way.

With that being said, Elliott is still going to have problems in his Sprint Cup career if he doesn’t get comfortable in his new role as a star. Just look into the kids eyes during any pre-race interview and you can instantly tell he is uncomfortable and shy about his new role as a future star. Furthermore, he just wants to go race and not have to worry about media commitments and being a brand spokesperson.

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Unfortunately for Elliott, life doesn’t work that way in the world of NASCAR and he needs to start accepting his role in the future of the sport. While that will require topping his already astonishing performances so far this season, it will also require him to develop a likable and relatable personality for his fans. If not, sponsors will begin to fade away and chase drivers with more outgoing, marketable and likeable personalities.