NASCAR: Chase Elliott already in legend territory?

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Chase Elliott is set to enter today’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval with four road course wins already in his NASCAR Cup Series career. Is he already a road racing legend of stock car racing?

Two-time reigning Watkins Glen International NASCAR Cup Series race winner Chase Elliott wasn’t too intimated by the fact that this year’s race at the eight-turn, 2.454-mile (3.949-kilometer) road course in Watkins Glen, New York was relocated to the Daytona International Speedway road course, where there had never previously been a stock car race.

He predictably did what he probably would have done yet again at Watkins Glen: took the checkered flag after leading the most laps of anybody in the field.

That win gave the 24-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia native eight career Cup Series wins, all since he won his first race at Watkins Glen back in August of 2018. Half of those eight wins are road course wins.

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Already, no active driver in the Cup Series has more road course wins than Elliott does. Martin Truex Jr., 39, and Kyle Busch, 35, are tied with him in that category.

Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick, who have 83 and 58 career wins, respectively, have just one and two road course wins.

At just 24 years of age, Elliott trails only nine drivers in all-time road course wins, and he is the youngest driver to ever reach four road course wins. Jeff Gordon, who had been the youngest to secure his fourth road course win at 27 years of age, leads the pack with nine ahead of Tony Stewart with eight. Richard Petty, Ricky Rudd, Rusty Wallace and Bobby Allison all won six road course races while Darrell Waltrip, Tim Richmond and Dan Gurney all won five.

Of those nine drivers, only Rudd, Richmond and Gurney aren’t NASCAR Hall of Famers. Of course, those other six Hall of Famers have all done a lot more than win road course races in their careers. All won at least 49 races and one championship.

Elliott still has quite a ways to go in that respect.

But we’re not making a case for Elliott to be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame at this point. We’re talking solely about his road course success. That success alone has already put him among the legends.

Elliott has won at three different road courses, and he could very well make it four or more given how strong he has been at Sonoma Raceway, which saw its race axed from the 2020 scheduled due to the pandemic, in recent years and the fact that Circuit of the Americas, Road America and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course have been added to next year’s schedule.

Only two other drivers in Cup Series history can make that claim. Wallace won two races at Watkins Glen International, two races at Sonoma Raceway and two races at Riverside International Raceway. Rudd shares the exact same stat line.

Aside from his two wins at Watkins Glen and his win in the inaugural road course race at Daytona, Elliott secured a win at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval last September in the second ever race at the track, and he could very well add another one there this weekend. He is slated to start on the front row alongside Denny Hamlin, a one-time road course winner (Watkins Glen – 2016).

Additionally, Elliott has now won three road course races in a row, dating back to his win at Watkins Glen last August.

Only 17 other drivers have won three road course races throughout their entire careers, with only 13 winning more than three.

He may only be in his third winning season in the Cup Series, and he may not have completed five seasons of competition yet. But the sport’s most popular driver has undeniably already solidified himself as one of the all-time great road course racers in NASCAR history.

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The Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval is scheduled to host the round of 12 finale this afternoon. This race, the Bank of America Roval 400, is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.