Jeff Gordon is retired. Tony Stewart is injured and going to retire this year. Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick are all in their 40s. The grandstands surrounding Daytona International Speedway, which hosts Sunday's iconic, season-opening 500-mile race, have been expanded and refurbished into what they are calling a motorsports "stadium."
It doesn't require a poet to see this Daytona 500 as a race in transition and the start of a year that NASCAR must look to a bolder but uncertain future. Chase Elliott (AP)
Then along came 20-year-old Chase Elliott, the son of Bill Elliott, a NASCAR Hall of Famer and one of the most popular drivers in the sport's history, driving the 24 car that Gordon rode to four Cup titles and untold fame himself.
And then Elliott won the pole in his first qualifying.
NASCAR's next big thing is here, not a moment too soon. It needs him, especially him, tying old and young, fresh and familiar, promise and talent for a sport that needs every bit of star power toRead More »from What's more thrilling for Chase Elliott: Winning Daytona 500 pole or flying in F-16?