By JENNA FRYER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Neither father nor son can remember a time when Chase Elliott wanted to be anything other than a race car driver.
The little boy spent his early years at the race track watching “Awesome Bill” win races deep into his 40s. One of Chase’s earliest memories was the 2002 victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
His uncles worked on cars and engines, and so much time was spent in the Dawsonville, Ga., shop, that Chase never dreamed of doing anything but following in the footsteps of the 1988 NASCAR champion and 16-time most popular driver.
“I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to do anything else,” Chase said. “Who doesn’t want to be like their Dad?”
He certainly wasn’t destined to be a student, crying himself sick every morning as he tried to get out of going to school.
“I didn’t think we’d ever get him through third grade. He hated it so bad,” Bill Elliott recalled.
But it’s funny how life changes, when commitment and desire become so overwhelming that attitudes adjust and tasks become more bearable. Chase wanted to race, but his parents insisted life wouldn’t be all fun and games at the track.
“What we tell him is ‘Right now, school is the most important part. The racing can go away in a heartbeat,’” Bill Elliott said. “Anything can take it away. So it’s always been ‘Get your education.’ Chase is in a good school, and he’s done a very good job of keeping his grades. He needs just a little prod now and then, but we work closely with the principals and teachers.”