Saturday, September 22, 2018
Sports

Chase Elliott matches expectations by making NASCAR Chase

All eyes were on rookie Sprint Cup driver Chase Elliott before he ever gripped the wheel of the famed No. 24 Chevrolet this year.

As the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott and the successor to four-time champion Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports, the shadows of racing legends and fan expectations loomed for the young talent even during his reign as the 2014 Xfinity series champion.

The younger Elliott grew up racing go-karts and late models while watching his father compete in NASCAR-sanctioned events long after Bill's 1988 Cup championship. But for Chase, 20, of Dawsonville, Ga., the realization that the baton had officially been passed didn't set in until he headed to Daytona International Speedway in February.

"I think a lot of it kind of sank in going to Daytona, and heading down to the Daytona 500 to not watch (Bill) race was weird," Chase said. "It was interesting to go through all the same motions, except knowing I wasn't there just to watch."

Chase has lived up to the expectations by becoming one of only three rookies to ever make the Chase for the Championship. He has no wins but nine top-five showings, the most by a rookie since Carl Edwards scored 13 in 2005.

"I think I've been lucky to have some good moments over the racing I've done to this point, and I think a lot of the things we went through have led to the opportunities we have today," Chase said.

Bill Elliott had a knack for winning the biggest races. He visited Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 twice and the Southern 500 three times. Today, Chase Elliott faces perhaps the most important race of his life, the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, the second race in the second phase of the Chase for the Championship.

In the Chase for the Championship, Elliott has led the second-most laps in two of the four races, trailing only six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson both times.

"I'm proud of a lot of moments that we've had," Chase said. "I'm not so proud of some, like anybody else, but I definitely don't like to narrow it down to one thing because it wasn't one thing that made everything happen just in the flip of a switch."

Xfinity: Kyle Busch led 150 of 200 laps in a dominant victory in the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway, his third consecutive series win at the 11/2-mile track. Elliott Sadler was second and Daniel Suarez third, as both title contenders made a nice start in the three-race round of eight of the second-tier series' inaugural Chase.

NHRA: Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) led qualifying for today's Texas Fall Nationals in Ennis

Comments
For starters: Rays at Blue Jays, with Meadows in the lineup

For starters: Rays at Blue Jays, with Meadows in the lineup

After a crushing defeat Thursday and Friday's bounceback win, the Rays take on the Blue Jays again today, first pitch 4:07.OF Austin Meadows, who made an impressive showing coming off the bench on Friday gets his first start today in rightfield. Mead...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Bucs have to be ‘reasonable,’ about their plan to play defensive tackle Vita Vea

Bucs have to be ‘reasonable,’ about their plan to play defensive tackle Vita Vea

Defensive tackle Vita Vea made it through practice this week, his first since straining his left calf muscle July 29. But coach Dirk Koetter was pretty non-committal about how much, or if, Vea will play Monday night against the Steelers."When you've ...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Football: Tampa Bay Tech 28, Hillsborough 27

Football: Tampa Bay Tech 28, Hillsborough 27

TAMPA — The decision was made as soon as Hillsborough got the ball back. Trailing by a touchdown with just over four minutes remaining against Tampa Bay Tech, the Terriers had the ball on their own 6-yard line.They hadn't been able to move the ...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Football: Clearwater 34, Mitchell 7

Football: Clearwater 34, Mitchell 7

TRINITY — What at first looked like a defensive stalemate between Clearwater and Mitchell quickly turned into a rout.Clearwater had revenge on its mind Friday night after a 45-28 loss to Mitchell last year during the the regular season. The Tor...
Updated: 1 hour ago

How Tampa Bay is savoring its FitzMagic carpet ride

TAMPA — Bucs fan Dallas Collins has it all planned out.On Monday night, he and his family are going to whip up an Irish Boiled Dinner. You know, corned beef, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and onions.Then they're going to sit down and watch the Buc...
Updated: 5 hours ago
USF’s Kitija Laksa begins play in FIBA Women’s World Cup

USF’s Kitija Laksa begins play in FIBA Women’s World Cup

Before resuming her assault on USF's record books, Kitija Laksa will try to make history with her homeland.A native of Riga, Latvia, Laksa begins play with her native country this morning in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in Spain.Latvia is ma...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Football: Largo 35, Countryside 0

Football: Largo 35, Countryside 0

LARGO — The offense was relentless and merciless Friday night, but that has been the case a lot recently. Largo is scoring points in bunches and getting contributions from everyone. Add in a defense that has been smothering, as well as a special team...
Published: 09/22/18
Rays bounce back big after a debacle

Rays bounce back big after a debacle

TORONTO — The way the Rays played Friday — all nine innings, lesson learned — in beating the Jays 11-3 provided the best answer on how, or even if, they could rebound from the crushing loss the night before that all but ended their ...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Football: Sickles 7, Freedom 3

TAMPA — Sickles needed a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter to escape Freedom 7-3 on Homecoming and remain in the hunt for a Class 7A, District 8 title.Gryphons coach Patrick Murphy knew that facing the Patriots would be a battle. Freedom (1-...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18

Football: Armwood 24, Jefferson 14

SEFFNER — Armwood is becoming accustomed to winning close games.The Hawks fended off visiting Jefferson 24-14 in a defensive battle that featured a plethora of holding penalties in the second half.Armwood (3-1) earned two rushing touchdowns from juni...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18