Among the things Bill Elliott has been known for during a stock-car racing career that includes 44 Sprint Cup Series wins, the 1988 Cup title and two Daytona 500 victories, is keeping his vehicles in good enough shape through most races to remain competitive at the end.
"Richard Petty always told me, 'To finish first, first you gotta finish,' " Elliott said standing on pit road at Langley Speedway on Friday. "The main thing is taking care of your equipment, especially when you get in the longer races.
"The key to the sport is having something there at the end. Chase does a very good job (of taking care of his equipment)."
Chase is Chase Elliott, Bill's 15-year-old son. Father and son will be at Langley Speedway on Saturday, when Chase runs in the USAR Pro Cup Series Visit Hampton VA 250. Chase enters the race going for his second consecutive victory, having won his first USAR race in 10 tries in the May 14 event at Rockingham, N.C.
A late pit call not to take tires gained Chase the track position needed to lead the final 18 laps and win at the track where Bill ran his first Sprint Cup race (in 1976), and had his most recent victory (in 2003). But Chase deserves kudos keeping the car and tires in good enough shape to hold off series points leader Brad Rogers, who drives for Chesapeake-based Lamb & Robinson.
"That's one thing my dad has said reminds me of him," Chase said of taking care of his equipment in a race. "That was a big victory, not only because of the history at Rockingham with my dad, but because it's the biggest track (about a mile) our team has won at.
"Track's like that prepare you for the next level."
Rogers was impressed with Chase's steadiness at Rockingham.
"He held a pretty good wheel," Rogers said afterward. "He didn't screw up when I was able to get to him in that lapped traffic."
On pit road at Langley on Friday, Rogers, who leads the series standings by 58 points, heaped more praise on his emerging rival.
"He's an incredible talent," he said. "Maybe in another year or two, I hope he'll get the right equipment and beat the wheels off of Kyle Busch.
"That's what I like to see, because I know he can do it. He's a cool dude, a generous, good kid. He reminds me of his old man."
The old man isn't looking for his boy to move into NASCAR's upper echelons perhaps as quickly as Rogers is.
"He's done well, but he's got a long way to go," Bill Elliott said. "We just gotta take the levels one step at a time, and wherever it goes it goes."
The Elliotts will go to Langley Speedway twice in the next three weeks. Chase will run in the K&N East Pro Series race here on June 18.
"K&N is going to be our big focus this year," Chase said of the series that is quickly gaining a reputation as a feeder series into NASCAR's highest levels. "We came down here this week so we're not so far behind the eight-ball when we come back."
USAR Pro Cup at Langley Speedway
WHAT: USAR Pro Cup Series Visit Hampton VA 250.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Gates open at 1 p.m., USAR qualifying is at 4:30 p.m. and the feature race is at 7.
TICKETS: $20 adults, $10 seniors and military, free ages 12 and under.
NOTEWORTHY: Langley's Modified, UCAR and Pro Six divisions also will run following the Pro Cup feature.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times