Rockingham Speedway has been a special track for the Elliott family ever since Bill Elliott made his NASCAR Cup debut at the 1-mile facility in the 1976 Carolina 500 at age 20.
In 48 starts at Rockingham, Elliott led 1,231 laps and collected four victories, including his last career Cup win in 2003. The 1988 Winston Cup champion's crew even walked off with the track's annual pit crew competition title one year.
On May 15, another jewel will be added to the Elliott family's Rockingham crown. That Saturday, Chase Elliott will make his USAR Pro Cup Series debut with his father, Bill, waving the green flag as the honorary starter for the Carolina 200 presented by Black's Tire and Auto.
It's the first time Chase, who began racing at age 8 on various North Georgia dirt tracks, will have competed on a 1-mile speedway. In 24 Pro Late Model races, the Georgia native has produced three victories, 11 top-5s and 19 top-10s. His 11 Super Late Model races have yielded one victory, three top-5s and seven top-10s.
Chase, however, won't be the only driver making his USAR Pro Cup Series debut at “The Rock.” Johanna Long and her Pensacola, Fla., team also will make their inaugural USAR Pro Cup appearance in the Saturday afternoon event.
A high school junior, Long, like the younger Elliott, was bitten by the racing bug at age 8. Her desire to take another step up on her racing career ladder led her to the USAR Pro Cup Series.
“We wanted to get into a bigger car, keep on going, not get stuck in a Late Model, but run in different series to gain more experience,” Long said. “It's a different world [USAR Pro Cup]. I've never raced with any of those guys and like when I first raced in Late Models, I had to gain their respect. It's like starting all over again.”
USAR Pro Cup Series practice for the Carolina 200 presented by Black's Tire and Auto begins at 9:55 a.m. on Friday, May 14, with qualifying at 2:30 p.m. The series only race on a 1-mile track is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 15.
The USARacing Pro Cup Series, formerly Hooters Pro Cup, is owned by Interstate Investment Group and is based in Concord, N.C. IIG is comprised of Jack McNelly, Gary Kale, Carl Hubbard, Chip Lofton and Larry Camp, who serves as the managing partner. For more information on the USARacing Pro Cup Series, go to www.usarprocup.com.