(Reuters) – There are perks that come with winning but perhaps the biggest is the freedom to try new things and NASCAR champion Chase Elliott enjoyed a close season indulging himself from racing on dirt tracks to featuring in the Disney/Pixar Cars franchise.
Since claiming the NASCAR Series crown in November, Elliott has been busy trying his hand at midget cars and dirt tracks at the Chili Bowl to getting behind the wheel at the 24 Hours of Daytona and assuming his Disney/Pixar role as Chase Racelott.
But it is back to work this week as a new NASCAR season kicks off on Sunday with the Daytona 500 and Elliott bidding to join his father Bill as a winner of the “Great American Race”.
Only a few have made the Daytona 500 a family affair.
Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500 in 1959, his son “The King” Richard Petty came first a record seven times.
Bobby and son Davey Allison also found their way to Victory Lane as did Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Twice Chase Elliott has put his Hendrick Motorsport entry on pole but has never managed anything better than a 14th place finish.
“(I) Would love to have a better effort and better results in the 500. We haven’t done very well at the end of the day down here, a lot of wrecks and not so good finishes,” Elliott told Reuters.
“Would love to be on the lead lap and not have any damage at the end and if you can achieve those two things you’ll have a shot at the win.
“Two things I haven’t done a good job of in my first five attempts and looking forward to another one and be around there at the end.”
Elliott got some early laps in at the Daytona Motor Speedway this year, teaming up with Brazilians Pipo Derani and former-Formula One driver Felipe Nasr and British former-IndyCar winner Mike Conway in the Action Express Racing Cadillac for the 24 Hours of Daytona.
That race along with driving on dirt at the Chili Bowl and a run in the Snowball Derby were all learning experiences for Elliott, little building blocks that might help him one day win big races.
“It’s stuff I have had interest in for the past number of years and just happened the opportunities fell right for me to do them all this winter,” said Elliott, adding if given the opportunity presents itself he would love to test himself in Formula One and IndyCar.
“Each discipline can teach you some different things. It doesn’t hurt to try new things, something outside your comfort zone.
“You can pick up on small stuff here and there you might take with you.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Christian Radnedge)