NASCAR’s Youth Movement

NASCAR thrives on youth talent making their way up the ranks to eventually find a home in NASCAR’s top series. Sometimes it takes these young guns awhile to start to get used to the spotlight and all of the pressure. But there are two drivers that are now in their second full year in the Monster Energy Series, Chase Elliot and Ryan Blaney, that show no signs of shying away from the spotlight.

Ryan Blaney (left) and Chase Elliot (right) may be rivals on the track, but are very good friends.

Ryan Blaney is the son of former NASCAR driver Dave Blaney. Ryan is 23 years old and has made his way   up into the Monster Energy Series. Blaney drives the number 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford currently. Blaney is in 7th place in points right now, but is definitely a threat this season.

Chase Elliot is also descendent of a former NASCAR driver. Chase’s dad, Bill Elliot won the NASCAR championship in 1988. Chase drives the number 24 Hendrick Chevy. Chase is 21 years old and definitely a force to be reckoned with, not just this season, but for many seasons to come. He is currently 2nd in points, just 4 points back of points leader Kyle Larson. Both of these drivers have a very bright future ahead of them.

Chase and Ryan have both had very strong starts to their career. Both have finished in the ten five numerous times, both topping at 2nd place as their highest finish. Chase won the 2016 Rookie of the Year award in the Monster Energy Series. Both of them have heads turning across the series as they continue to have quality finishes. It seems the only thing that these two haven’t done, is win. But that day is coming sooner rather than later.

Even though Blaney and Elliot race against each other and for different teams, they are very good friends. It seems I see them together on TV a lot, before and after the race. I actually got to experience the two of them together in person. I attend the NASCAR race weekend at Watkins Glen each year. This past year, when both Elliot and Blaney were rookies, they decided to do something for their fans. Friday night, at about 9 o’clock in the afternoon, Chase Elliot sent out a tweet asking his followers if they wanted to take part in a soccer game in the infield camping area of the track. We were lucky enough to see the tweet, and we sprinted to the field, which was soon turned into a soccer field using trash cans to mark the goals. When we got their, there was Chase Elliot

Me with Chase Elliot before the soccer game (top) and my brother and I with Ryan Blaney after the soccer game (bottom).

with a soccer ball at his feet. We walked right up to him and started talking. He was extremely polite and nice to talk with. About 5 minutes later, Ryan Blaney showed up in a golf cart with huge tires and a custom speaker system. He too was extremely nice. More fans began to show up and we played a massive soccer game for about 2 hours.

Never have I ever seen any drivers ever going that far out of their way to interact with fans. This was a great thing to see, especially two younger guys in the sport. Not only are Chase Elliot and Ryan Blaney great drivers, they are also great people. So often do we hear about or see how athletes think that they are so far above the rest of society and never make an effort to please their fans, but not these two. They are two of my favorite NASCAR drivers of all time, and they are only in their second year, and I cannot wait to see what they can do in the rest of their career. And hopefully a soccer rematch…

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