BRISTOL, Tenn. — Cue the siren at the Dawsonville Pool Room. Another Elliott victory is in the books.
Chase Elliott joined his father — "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville" and "Million Dollar Bill" — as a winner of the annual NASCAR All-Star Race, with the Georgia native earning the $1 million prize Wednesday in front of limited spectators at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"Oh my gosh, I can't believe it," the 24-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver said.
Back in the Elliotts' hometown in the mountains of the Peach State, the pool room has marked every win by the father — Elliott, a NASCAR Hall of Famer, hasn't competed in a Cup Series race since 2012 — or son by blaring its horn no matter the time of day or night.
Elliott won the second and third stages of the All-Star Race and earned the right to choose which lane he wanted to restart for the final 15-lap sprint to the finish. He picked the outside and pulled buddy Ryan Blaney, a Team Penske and Ford driver, with him on the restart but was never challenged. Elliott beat Kyle Busch in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota to the finish line.
Interestingly, both Elliotts became All-Star winners at tracks that don't typically host the annual event that started in 1985.
Bill Elliott won the NASCAR All-Star Race in 1986 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the only time it was not held at Charlotte Motor Speedway until this year, when it was moved from Concord, North Carolina, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tennessee state officials allowed NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports to sell 30,000 tickets to the race at Bristol. North Carolina would not authorize spectators for the race.
"What better night to have fans back," Elliott said. "There's nothing like Bristol. There's no feeling like it. This speaks for itself, Bristol is an electric atmosphere. We'll take that million dollars back to Georgia."
His father earned the "Million Dollar Bill" moniker when he won the Winston Million in 1986 for his victories in NASCAR "crown jewel" races at Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Darlington Raceway. Two years later, Bill Elliott won his lone Cup Series season championship.
The crowd surged to the fence and chanted "USA! USA!" as Chase Elliott celebrated on the front stretch at Bristol on Wednesday. It was the most spectators at a sporting event in the United States since March. Because the speedway is privately owned, attendance numbers will not be released, but there appeared to be about 20,000 in the grandstands. Tickets were on sale through Tuesday evening and still available on Bristol's website until the deadline.
Bristol, dubbed "The Last Great Colosseum," can hold about 140,000 spectators. Speedway Motorsports had those in attendance physically distanced in the grandstands and face masks were required to enter, though fans were told they could remove them once in their seats.
After the post-race fireworks, an announcement was made telling fans they'd be dismissed by row.
Elliott won in his fifth NASCAR All-Star Race appearance and is the 25th different driver to win the made-for-TV showcase that doesn't count in the points standings. Chase and Bill join Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. as winning father-son duos of the event.
Bubba Wallace crashed in the qualifying race, ruining his shot of racing for the $1 million prize.
One driver advanced into the All-Star race through a fan vote, and Wallace had been leading when results were last updated by NASCAR a week earlier. After he crashed 17 laps into the qualifying race — which awarded three additional slots to stage winners into the 20-driver All-Star field — he was no longer eligible to win the fan vote.
It didn't matter, anyway. Clint Bowyer was named winner of the fan vote, and NASCAR said he received the most votes even with Wallace eliminated. Aric Almirola advanced by winning the first stage, William Byron for winning the second and Matt DiBenedetto for winning the third.
Wallace had race-ending contact with the wall when his No. 43 Chevrolet appeared to be turned from behind by Michael McDowell 17 laps into the first stage. He said he didn't need to see a replay because he knew McDowell's contact was egregious.
"Just disrespect. When you get hooked into the wall, I don't even need to see a replay," Wallace said. "People say he's one of the nicest guys in the garage. I can't wait for the God-fearing text that he is going to send me about preaching and praise and respect. What a joke he is."
A piece of Wallace's crumpled sheet metal was placed on the back of McDowell's team truck, and Wallace was seen walking away.
Wallace climbed from his car and gave a thumbs-up to a contingent of fans cheering for him. Roughly two dozen organizers from Justice 4 the Next Generation traveled from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia in an effort to diversify NASCAR.
Wallace is the only Black driver competing regularly in NASCAR's top series, and drivers rallied around him after a noose was found at his assigned stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Federal authorities ruled last month the noose had been hanging since October and was not a hate crime.