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Harris Blackwood: Chase Elliott serves up dessert for fans
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I like restaurants that have good desserts.

I dined once in a fancy place that had a dessert cart. They pushed it around and gave you the chance to look at what they had to offer.

If you eat at a steakhouse, they may have a picture of the prime cut of steak, but the chef is probably not going to bring it out for you to see.

Waitresses often come around and offer dessert, just as you are bemoaning how much you had to eat.

I think we should have dessert first. Then, they can come around and see if you have room for the heavy stuff.

NASCAR does a version of this. They serve up their dessert first. It’s known as the Daytona 500. It is often called “The Great American Race,” sort of the World Series and Super Bowl of stock car racing.

Two years ago, Chase Elliott left his high school graduation to go race a car at speeds north of 175 miles per hour. In his first year, he was the champion of the Xfinity series of NASCAR.

This week, he had the fastest qualifying time and will start in the pole position in the Daytona 500. He is the youngest driver to make that accomplishment. If he hangs on for 500 miles, he will be the youngest winner of the Great American Race.

Elliott has racing in his blood. His daddy, Bill Elliott, put Dawsonville on the map as the racing capital of Georgia. For years, folks gathered at the Dawsonville Pool Room and celebrated the hometown driver. Perhaps that tradition is about to resume.

Bill was 21 when he started racing on the big circuit in 1976. He still holds the record for the fastest qualifying speed at Daytona.

I don’t think he’d be too upset if his namesake son one day eclipses that record. But that’s a conversation for another day.

In their first heyday, the Elliott team was a family operation. They built engines and fabricated cars in the Dawsonville shop. As Bill kept winning, folks came around to see what these folks were up to in the foothills of the mountains.

At 15, Chase Elliott signed with Hendrick Motorsports, one of the hottest teams in NASCAR. He will drive the No. 24 car formerly driven by the newly retired Jeff Gordon. This is a team that knows a thing or two about winning.

Chase Elliott is a handsome lad and will likely become a fan favorite like his dad. Folks from Dawsonville are getting ready for his debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Feb. 28.

I hate to tell preachers in Dawson County, but attendance at Sunday school and church is probably going to be off for the next couple of Sundays. There is an excitement in the air that hasn’t been felt since a couple of decades ago when Bill won the championship and was dubbed “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville.”

Chase Elliott has served up a prelude to the race that makes whatever happens at Daytona more exciting. If he comes home with a checkered flag, there will be a celebration in the streets of Dawsonville’s normally quiet downtown.

He’s already given us two scoops of ice cream and a dash of whipped cream. If he prevails, the cherry on top will be more than sweet.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.

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