Jimmie Johnson played several roles in Chase Elliott's first win
With his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in hand, Chase Elliott still needed help to reach Victory Lane.
Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet had run out of fuel shortly after capturing the victory Sunday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and came to a rest on the track.
Who better to come to Elliott’s rescue than his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and seven-time Cup series champion, Jimmie Johnson, who pulled his No. 48 Chevy in behind Elliott and gave him a push to Victory Lane.
The scene seemed symbolic of a changing of the guard in NASCAR.
But it was more than that.
Johnson, 42, has also played an instrumental role in helping the 22-year-old Elliott deal with enormous expectations that have followed him in his career and the difficulties of coming up empty in the win column during his first two-and-a-half seasons as a Cup driver.
“Jimmie has been one of my heroes for a long, long time. I leaned on him a lot over this past offseason and I always lean on him, but certainly a lot throughout this offseason just about the opportunities I’ve had in the past and not closing them out,” Elliott said in Victory Lane.
“He has been a big supporter of mine and that was one of the coolest things ever and I will never forget it.”
Later, Elliott expounded on his time spent with Johnson.
“He and I were out in Colorado at the same time last year and I had an opportunity to sit down with him and just talk about some of those disappointing days. When you have a chance to talk to somebody like him about those days, that's certainly a character-building moment,” Elliott said.
“They weren’t over a lot of drinks, but they were still very meaningful and helpful to me. When you have not only a fellow racer but a teammate and a guy who’s done what he’s done take the time to lend me advice or just listen to what I had to say, that helps a lot.
“I just appreciate his friendship, and looking forward to racing with him for hopefully years to come.”
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