Chase elliott set for grand weekend at charlotte e payment electricity bill up


MOORESVILLE, N.C. — NAPA will be the primary sponsor on Chase Elliott’s star-spangled No. 9 Chevrolet for this Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but he’s getting a weekend’s worth of support from another backer, which is expanding its reach beyond product placement on his cars.

Hooters has brought its annual Hooters International Pageant to zMAX Dragway this Saturday, featuring a concert by country music artist Jake Owen. The event moves from its traditional Las Vegas home to NASCAR’s backyard, opening its gates to the public for the first time, and the restaurant chain has also added its sponsorship to Elliott’s return to the Xfinity Series, where he’s set to run just his second race of the season.

The extra sponsorship push has made an already big weekend even grander for the 22-year-old driver, who will make his 90th career start in the Monster Energy Series in Sunday’s 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Tuesday afternoon offered a preview, as he joined some of the pageant contestants at a photo shoot on a palatial Lake Norman estate.

“It was really cool to kind of bring them back last year and to get back involved in a bigger way, which I feel like is a great fit for them and it’s a good fit for me, too,” said Elliott, in his second season of the sponsorship deal. He’ll join fellow driver Ryan Blaney as a celebrity guest judge Saturday evening. “It’s been a great partnership. Them being on the car the past couple of years I feel like has been great. It’s been a very positive partner, definitely from my end and I hope the same for them.

Elliott’s ingredients over his career at Charlotte have been a mishmash recipe thus far. Last year’s 600 brought an early exit, running over debris that hampered his car and caused a calamitous crash with Brad Keselowski, ending his day after just 19 of the 400 laps. In last October’s return to the 1.5-mile track, Elliott spent 12 laps in the lead before finishing second — his best result in five Charlotte starts.

“I think everything’s too different,” Elliott said. “Parts and pieces change too fast, and people come up with parts and things. You might have a trick one month and then it be gone the next, and so on and so forth, and the same for other people on other teams. To me, I think it’s too hard to say, ‘Ah, we ran good there last fall. We’re going to go back and run good again here in the spring.’ It’s just too different. … It was nice to have a good run there, for sure. We wrecked out early in the 600 last year, so hopefully we can make it 600 miles this time instead of watching the end on the couch.”

So far, most of the Monster Energy Series field has been watching Kevin Harvick dominate with five wins in 12 points-paying events, plus a victory in last weekend’s All-Star Race exhibition as a tack-on bonus. Three of Harvick’s points wins have come on 1.5-mile tracks, a point of emphasis considering their prominence on the schedule.

“Until you’re winning every week like some guys are, you’re always trying to build,” Elliott said. “And even when you are winning like that, you still need to be building or you’re going to get behind at some point. We’re definitely not where we need to be. Running around 10th isn’t what I want. It’s not what my team wants, so we’re working hard at it, but look, that’s life. You’ve got to go through ups and downs, you’ve got to ride the roller-coaster as best you can.

“At the end of the day, the most important thing is when things are on the up and up, making the most of it and I think that’s one thing I haven’t done a real good job of in the past, so experience hopefully helps and if things come back around for us, I’m going to make sure I do my part and make the most of the good times.”

Elliott is scheduled for a double-duty weekend for the first time since the Daytona season opener, participating in the Xfinity Series’ Alsco 300 (Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for GMS Racing. The organization announced Monday that Elliott would drive the team’s No. 23 Chevy for at least five races, filling in as driver Spencer Gallagher serves an indefinite suspension for violation of NASCAR’s substance abuse policy.

Elliott, an Xfinity Series champion in 2014, teamed up with GMS last season for a win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway. Reconnecting with the team, and bolstering its program with additional sponsorship promoting Saturday night’s Hooters pageant, came as a natural pairing.

“Obviously, I wish it was under better circumstances, but they kind of kept me in mind,” Elliott said. “I had a little bit of a relationship with GMS from last year running some truck races with them and we had some mild success there from time to time, so it was just a good fit. They’ve been real easy to work with. I feel like we’ve gotten along, which has been the biggest thing, with Mr. Gallagher and Mike (Ford, Xfinity competition director) and all the folks there, so it’s just been easy to work with and I think that was the biggest thing.

“They had mentioned to me before if I had any interest in running some races whenever this all came about. I said I did and I think it would be helpful for me to go do, so I’m looking forward to doing it and helping any way I can. Obviously, I want to go do good, too, so I can help some way, somehow and go get those guys some good finishes and hopefully a win.”