NASCAR: How Chase Elliott ‘dodged a bullet’ before racing

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

For Chase Elliott, the situation he faced in 2014 was simple: compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series full-time, or attend college.

2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott did an interview a few years ago and told listeners that before 2014, he didn’t know if he was ever going to be able to compete full-time in NASCAR.

If things didn’t pan out, he was all ready to attend college, having graduated from King’s Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta, Georgia in May 2014.

We had the chance to talk to Elliott a little bit more about his background, which was detailed in Peacock documentary CHASE, and about that contingency plan.

CHASE, which was released two summers ago now, takes viewers to the 27-year-old’s hometown of Dawsonville, Georgia for a personal walk through his rise to the top of stock car racing and all of the people who helped him to get where he is today.

Following his fifth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular Driver Award, let’s revisit that interview with Elliott about where he was in his process as far as potentially going to college and not competing full-time in NASCAR.

“I had applied to a couple schools — local, close to home, smaller colleges,” Elliott told Beyond the Flag. “I had applied to a couple and got accepted, and I didn’t know what I was going to do once I got there, but I had at least applied and been accepted.

“[With] everything that was going, there was just some question whether we were going to race full-time or not in 2014. We were going to do some racing, but if it wasn’t full-time, my mom was going to make me go to college.”

Of course, we all saw what happened in 2014. Chase Elliott not only competed but won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports.

“Fortunately for me, we ended up racing full-time,” Elliott continued. “And I didn’t have to decide what I was going to do in class coming up. But one day, maybe I will. I don’t know. I’ve at least dodged that bullet for a few years!”

After another successful season in 2015, Elliott was promoted to the Cup Series as the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, replacing four-time champion and 93-time race winner Jeff Gordon.

He began driving the No. 9 Chevrolet after two seasons behind the wheel of the No. 24 Chevrolet, and all 18 of his wins — and his championship — thus far have come behind the wheel of that car.

But while he jokes about “dodging a bullet” nine years ago, Elliott hasn’t ruled out attending a college or university for some sort of education down the road, after his driving career. As for what he would study, he still doesn’t know.

“Maybe,” he admitted. “Today, currently? No, to be candid. But down the road, who knows? I feel like you change a lot as years go on. So who knows what the future brings. But right now where I sit, I don’t have any interest in going back to school. But one day, maybe; not sure.”

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

Elliott is set to enter his fifth straight season as reigning NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular Driver and eighth overall full-time Cup Series season this year. The 65th annual Daytona 500 is scheduled to take place this afternoon, with Fox set to broadcast the race live from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. He is set to start eighthBegin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!