The mantle of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver is up for grabs. And Kevin Harvick has no doubt that Chase Elliott is it: He’s the sport’s next star.
“The bottom line is, when you look at our sport, there’s only a few guys that come through this sport that have the name, the history, the heritage of that NASCAR family and carry that through their career, and Chase is one of those guys,” Harvick said Friday at Kansas.
“He’s done a great job of carrying himself, of being competitive and doing all those things that he does, but he is the NASCAR tie to the beginning of the sport, or however far back you want to look at it. He has that family name, and that history and heritage of the hardcore NASCAR fan who are going to be the people who vote that.
And with a smile, Harvick added, “And his dad won a few times, the most popular driver,” referencing Elliott’s father, 16-time Most Popular Driver award winner Bill Elliott.
The younger Elliott has come tantalizingly close to a win in the NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. At just 22 years old, he has eight runner-up finishes so far in his career. As Harvick sees it, Elliott has already made a name for himself in the sport, and reaching Victory Lane will only catapult him higher.
“He’s the next Dale Jr. He’s the next guy that … is he gonna win enough to be the megastar? At some point. He’s a star, right now. But winning takes you to that next level of being a bigger star. And Chase Elliott winning is better for our sport. And he’s gonna be the guy that wins the Most Popular Driver, in my opinion, for the next several years. There’s nobody else that has that tie to our sport like Chase does.
“I can win 20 races a year and I’m never gonna have that tie to the sport like Chase does.”