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Elliott Hopes To Make New Brickyard Memories on Road Course

Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott doesn’t remember a lot about being at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 4, 2002. He was 6 years old, still not completely invested in what his father was doing that day as a veteran Brickyard 400 driver.

But memories are memories, and the second-generation stock car driver certainly has them. He has photographs, too, and those from that IMS race are among his favorites of his father’s Hall of Fame career.

“That was probably one of his biggest wins and one of the few I was around for,” Elliott said. “Not that I remember everything about it because I was really little, but to have those photos and share some of those moments and to have that to look back on is really cool.”

Elliott’s father recorded 44 Cup Series victories and the 1988 season championship, but the 2002 Brickyard 400 was one of only four for which this Hendrick Motorsports driver was alive. The others were at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2001, at Pocono Raceway in 2002 and at North Carolina Motor Speedway in 2003. IMS is the one Chase most remembers.

That Brickyard win was the 43rd of Bill Elliott’s career. His son wore a red, junior-sized crew shirt and seemed well-versed in extending his right index finger as high in the air as possible in victory lane while standing with his parents. Father and son even posed with the trophy on Indy’s iconic Yard of Bricks.

Bill Elliott led 93 laps that day, taking the lead from Rusty Wallace with 12 laps to go. His son never had such a moment on the Brickyard’s oval, finishing only as high as ninth once in six starts.

“We’ve always (ran poorly) there – it’s one of those places that I wanted to fix,” the younger Elliott said. “Hopefully it goes better this year, and we can improve.”

If improvement comes, it will be on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course, which will host the Cup Series for the first time Sunday, Aug. 15 with the inaugural Verizon 200 at the Brickyard. The race is part of a tripleheader weekend featuring the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix and NASCAR’s Xfinity Series’ Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard, with those two races Saturday, Aug. 14.

Elliott should be one of the favorites to win the Cup race based on past performances. Of his 13 series wins, seven have come on such circuits: two each at Watkins Glen International and the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval, one at the Daytona International Speedway road course, at Circuit of The Americas and last weekend at Road America. For the second year, the Charlotte road course will be part of the championship’s Round of 12, this season on Oct. 10.

Elliott also won a Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in 2013.

Not only do road courses suit him, he insists turning left and right on the same lap suits Cup Series cars.

“I’m not sure the big track (at Indy) was the greatest race for us, but I will be trying to learn (the road course) and tackle that challenge. I think it will be a better event.”

If all goes well, perhaps the Elliotts can again celebrate in victory lane and on the Yard of Bricks.

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