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Dawsonville relishes Chase Elliotts quest
A-Elliott starts racing season pic 1
Gordon Pirkle, owner of the Dawsonville Pool Room and founder of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, is confident Chase Elliott will break through with a regular-season victory this season. - photo by Scott Rogers DCN Regional Staff

The siren at the Dawsonville Pool Room is ringing out again these days.

Once an indicator of victories by 1988 NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, these days it's celebrating the accomplishments of his son Chase Elliott, another Dawsonville native regularly in the mix for wins.
First, the younger Elliott won the pole for this year's Daytona 500. Then he won one of the two 60-lap Can Am Duel qualifying races at Daytona on Feb. 23. Now he's looking for his first regular-season victory in NASCAR's top series.

Although he was unable to come away with a win at the storied race, it was the second year in a row that Elliott started from the front for the Daytona 500.

Gordon Pirkle Jr., general manager of the pool room, said people were stopping by and calling on Feb. 19 when the siren sounded for the 21-year-old Elliott earning the pole.

"It was like the old times," Gordon Pirkle Jr. said.

Dawsonville resident Calvin Byrd can identify. He was a little boy when Bill Elliott was racking up many of his 44 victories in NASCAR's top series and recalled going to his grandfather's house to cheer for the Dawsonville native. It's much the same now, but for Chase Elliott this time.

"Everybody's excited," Byrd said. "I was thrilled to death when he won the pole."

And after a few long months of having to watch race replays to get his NASCAR fix, Gordon Pirkle Jr. was looking forward to the Daytona 500 and the return of the NASCAR season.

"I can't wait," he said.

Elliott finished 37th at the Daytona 500 in 2016, but he posted 10 top five finishes and 17 top 10s en route to earning Rookie of the Year honors, making the sport's playoff Chase and finishing 10th in the points standings. He wound up with more points than former champions Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart.

Elliott finished second twice at Michigan International Speedway, in June and August, the latter coming as fellow young driver Kyle Larson picked up his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. Elliott was tough on himself when opportunities for wins slipped away, which didn't surprise Gordon Pirkle Jr.

"That's the way the Elliotts are," he said. "They're humble."

Gordon Pirkle Sr., owner of the Pool Room and founder of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, expressed confidence Elliott will break through with a regular-season victory this season.

"He is so well-grounded, such a nice boy," the elder Pirkle said.

Gordon Pirkle Jr. wasn't surprised to see Elliott do so well in stepping up to NASCAR's top series in 2016. After all, Elliott won the NASCAR Xfinity Series title in his first season at age 18.

This year's 14th place finish at the Daytona 500 was an improvement over last year and hopes are high as the season moves ahead.

Count Byrd among those optimistic Elliott can find victory lane with regularity.

"We're hoping that he'll win four or five races this year and make the final four," Byrd said.

One thing is for sure.

"We're just real proud of him," Byrd said.