Chase Elliott talks about his rookie season and the 2017 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards

4-6 November, 2016, Fort Worth, Texas USA Chase Elliott (24) makes a pit stop. ©2016, John Harrelson / NKP

Kelley Blue Book recently announced the winners of the 2017 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards, honoring the top model-year vehicle choices available in the U.S. market. Of more than 300 new-car models available for 2017, KBB’s editors named the 2017 Honda Civic the Best Buy of 2017 alongside Best Buy Award winners in 12 major vehicle categories.

We spoke to NASCAR driver Chase Elliott about the KBB awards, his rookie season, and if his dad, legendary driver Bill Elliott aka “Awesome Bill From Dawsonville,” ever made him use KBB to help with an automobile purchasing decision like our dads did.

When was the last time you bought a car? When I was your age, my dad made me use Kelley Blue Book to confirm the right price. Did your dad ever make you do that?

Yes! I have in the past. I haven’t purchased anything recently because I’ve been so focused on my rookie season. But I have definitely looked at KBB over the years, trying to make a good move in terms of a purhcasing decision, and my dad got me started on that.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve thought of while driving 200 MPH on a racetrack? 

That’s a good question. Once we get going in a race, we have so many things that are going on. Trying to make the car better, trying to improve, trying to drive better, communicating what you need to your team. We just have a lot of things going on. That being said, you don’t have a lot of time to think about anything outside of that. And if you do, your head probably isn’t in the right place. We try to stay as locked in as we can.

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NASCAR racing helped create mystique of the American automobile

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NASCAR (the National Association of Stock Car Automobile Racing) had a tremendous effect on the development of American’s love affair with automobiles. It also helped in the development of many safety and performance developments that have come along in the last 50 years. The history of American motoring has its roots firmly planted in NASCAR’s development.

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Behind the scenes at the 100th Indy 500: Day Two

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Castroneves Goes Down

Building off the momentum of Day One, we squared off against three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves in the Verizon hum remote control car race. He asked for the directions on “how to use this thing” and I pretended not to hear him.

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I got off to a hot start and smoked the entire field, H.C. included. I snapped this pic for posterity.

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A day in the life of NASCAR driver Cole Whitt

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The best things in NASCAR thrive under pressure. Whether it’s the engine, pit crew or driver, it’s a game of constant pressure, a game of endurance that lasts from February to November. And the team that handles it the best wins the Sprint Cup.

“Typically, you’ve got several things to do,” said 24-year old Speed Stick driver Cole Whitt about his routine for each race weekend. “Each day, you wake up around nine, go to the track and take care of all of your pre-race track duties.”

The demands placed on a NASCAR driver throughout the season are intense. The idea that drivers get to the track, turn left for three hours and then resume their day-to-day life is false.

“After a race, you recover the rest of Sunday. You only get three days at home a week. Then you rest on Monday and try to tax your body with workouts Tuesday and Wednesday, travel again on Thursday – we’re constantly travelling or moving.”

But time at the track, both pre-race and during the race, are only two components of a busy schedule.

“You usually have media obligations both days, whether its interviews or appearances, and then the race. From the minute the checkered flag finishes, you’re essentially preparing for the next Sunday from that moment on.”

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This weekend, one of those appearances was for Speed Stick, signing autographs and giving away #35 T-shirts at a local Kroger grocery store, where the temperature reached the mid-90s. “I typically lose between 10-12 pounds per race. Sitting in a car is like being in a sauna for four hours.”

A test of mental endurance as much as physical, doubt can also creep into the mind of a driver during the grueling season.

“It’s really easy to get down on yourself, to doubt yourself, especially as a smaller team,” said Whitt about his crew, which is roughly half the size of the larger teams they’re competing against.

“It’s a different mentality here. If we’re Top 25, we are proud of our team. The team has to work as hard with half as much of the support as the big teams. But the biggest thing is staying mentally healthy and not feeling doubt.”

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Behind the scenes with NASCAR on NBC

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“The first event I ever announced was a women’s gymnastics meet at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln,” said Rick Allen, lead announcer for NASCAR on NBC. “The guy who was supposed to do it didn’t show up. And I just happened to be hanging around, so I did it.”

As the then-reigning back-to-back Big Eight (now Big 12) Conference decathlon champion for the Cornhuskers, as Allen was in 1991 and 1992, why wouldn’t you be hanging around the women’s gymnastics team? If charisma was a sport, he’d still be leading the league.

Allen’s affable, smooth, confident tone on the air transitions just as easily outside of the booth to the confines of the NBC Sports tent where we talked about his job as the voice of NBC Sports’ rejuvenated NASCAR franchise.

“Nothing about this position is easy, but I am privileged and very excited to be here.”

Allen got his start announcing races at Eagle Raceway in Eagle, Nebraska after getting a degree in speech communications.

He joined Fox Sports in 2003 and served as play-by-play man for Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity races until last year. Former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton and former crew chief Steve Letarte join Allen in the booth.

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“At any one time, I have five people in my headset, whether it’s my producer, our spotter, our stats guys… all providing me with information to make the broadcast as engaging and understandable as possible for the fans watching it. And that is on top of the conversations I’m having in the booth, with Jeff and Steve.”

Allen isn’t just a mouthpiece who acts like he knows what he’s talking about; the authenticity of his interest and enjoyment of NASCAR is palpable as he speaks. He’s the voice of the franchise and is excited about helping viewers understand the intricacies of the sport with the second biggest audience base, trailing only the NFL.

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