Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott didn’t have a great race last Saturday at Richmond International Raceway. The rookie driver started 34th and had a meeting with the wall early in the going. In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Federate Auto Parts 400. He would go on to finish 19th on the lead lap.
The young driver, son of popular driver Bill Elliott took over the legendary No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet piloted by legendary driver Jeff Gordon, until the four time champion retired at the end of last season.
Since taking over for Gordon, the legions of Elliott fans have grown. Saturday night at Richmond however, no Elliott fan was more excited than 6-year-old Molly Baer. The Red Cross served as the primary sponsor for Elliott Saturday and arranged for Molly, an avid NASCAR fan, and her family to attend their first ever NASCAR race.
Molly has a blood disorder called Beta Thalassemia Major in addition to a congenital heart defect. She receives two units of blood every three weeks and takes daily medications along with infusions at her home. The first grader got to meet Elliott prior to the race, and cheered for him, as he became the first rookie to secure a spot in the Chase since Denny Hamlin in 2006.
“It is definitely exciting,” Elliott said after the race Saturday night. “It is a heck of an opportunity. I’m very happy that we were able to squeak through. I had to overcome a lot of adversity, a lot of wrecking, a lot of problems. It was a wild race for sure. Lucky that some of the stuff worked out the way it did and we were able to get in this thing.”
Elliott is seeded 14th in the Chase field, but with the way he has performed in his first full season, could definitely be a contender to go all the way.
“Getting in is the first very small step of these last 10 races,” he said. “We will take it a week at a time. I think we have to leave here with the mentality that we could go to Homestead and give ourselves a chance.”
No matter the outcome, one six-year-old fan will have memories to carry the rest of her life, and will no doubt be cheering from the sidelines. All possible thanks in large part to the generosity of blood donors that allow Molly Baer to live life to the fullest.