Every professional sport today has it’s star players. Those elite few that stand above the rest. And NASCAR is no different, it has many drivers competing week in and week out to show their fellow racers that they are the fastest on that given day.
But since the early days of the sport’s creation, there has been a select few that are as recognized by their car numbers as they are by their stellar performance on the track.
The numbers 3 11 17 24 88 represent just a few of our sports best drivers. Back in the early 80’s the number 9 of Bill Elliott on race was very popular and worn on the shirts and hats of many fans day.
Awesome Bill from Dawsonville was his nick name. A name that was derived from his birthplace of Dawsonville Georgia. He was mild mannered and soft spoken, but once strapped in his number 9 ford he was one of the quickest cars on the track.
As his career was coming to an end, a young well versed kid with star looks came upon the scene wearing his rainbow colors and representing the number 24.
Jeff Gordon was something the sport had never seen. He was well mannered very skilled and extremely fast. With 93 wins, 3 Daytona 500 victories and 4 championships it’s safe to say he made the number 24 one of the most iconic numbers the sport has ever had.
But after 24 seasons competing at the sports highest level he too would retire. This would leave the car owner, Mr. Hendrick the tough task of putting someone else in the seat of that famous car.
This is where Bill Elliott would come back into our sport once again. His son Chase Elliott would be that lucky driver hand picked to take over that seat.
I was one of those fans with the number 24 on my back in the grandstands during all those victories and championships. So when I saw this young kid named Chase Elliott for the first time test drive the car I wondered if that number would still shine and rank among the sports best. Fast forward to the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 Sprint Cup race in Atlanta, where all my doubts were answered.
The Atlanta track is known to be one of the fastest on the circuit. And with the newly adopted downforce rules package, this would cause even the best drivers difficulty. And while he admitted after the race was over that he “was worn out” he performed flawlessly. He ran in the top ten all race long and finished in 8th spot.
Much like his father with his soft spoken ways he showed me that he is capable of winning and keeping that famous number on the backs of new fans for years to come.