NNS Notes: Chase Elliott expects “normal Monday” back in class

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Tonight, Chase Elliott is on top of the NASCAR world. Come Monday, he’ll be back to hitting the books.

The 18-year-old Elliott, who claimed his inaugural Nationwide Series win late Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway, is a high school senior at the King’s Ridge Christian School in suburban Atlanta when he isn’t racing for JR Motorsports.

And while he says that his classmates know what he gets up to on the weekends, he figures that his return to King’s Ridge will be a “normal Monday.”

“Nobody likes Mondays, so I’m sure it’ll be the same ol’ deal – go and have a bunch of homework to do when I get back and [then] get ready to go to Darlington,” Elliott said after taking the checkered flag.

“…It’ll be a good feeling to go throughout the week with, but this race is over with. It’s definitely something to enjoy, but at the same time, we’ve got another race next Saturday night and we gotta make sure to get prepared for that.”

Nonetheless, we figure that Elliott’s friends at King’s Ridge are surely planning some sort of celebration. He said that he’s “fortunate” to have his particular group of pals, who according to him have attended some races and keep track of his progress on TV.

“I think most guys my age don’t have that when they go home,” he added. “They don’t have the people pulling for them, especially classmates and stuff. So that’s really cool to go home to and just have a really good group of friends. I’m looking forward to obviously seeing them Monday.”

Trevor Bayne entered Texas tied in points with Regan Smith for the Nationwide Series championship lead, but left 18 points back of Elliott in fifth place after a costly tire failure early in tonight’s race.

On Lap 42, Bayne’s right rear tire went down in Turn 2 before he spun out moments later in Turn 4. Bayne was able to keep his Ford Mustang off the wall but the car itself sustained damage as a result of the blowout.

Subsequent repairs, along with an additional pit stop for a tire rub, sent Bayne multiple laps off the pace of the leaders. He wound up finishing five laps down in 23rd place.

“It started getting really loose about Lap 25 into the run,” Bayne said. “I don’t know if the tire was leaking the whole time or if it just wore really bad, but going through one and two about two or three laps before that happened I said, ‘The right rear feels really bad,’ and then the next two laps, I said it again and again and then all of a sudden I lost it into [Turn 3].

“The tire didn’t explode, so I thought it just had a flat. I went to drive around because I didn’t want to lose my lap to [Kevin Harvick] and as soon as I got on the gas right past pit road, it blew apart, so I couldn’t get to pit road. Had we got to pit road, we could have salvaged our day, but at that point we lost so many laps trying to repair it.”

Column: Contrasting Michael Schumacher’s and Robert Wickens’ situations

(Photo: Tony Gentile / Reuters)
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As much of the world looks forward to Christmas and New Years Day in the next few weeks, a dark anniversary is also on the near horizon.

It’s hard to believe that December 29 will mark five years since seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher was critically injured in a skiing accident, suffering a traumatic brain injury.

Schumacher and his family were on holiday in the French Alps when he fell and struck his head on a boulder. The impact was so severe that it cracked the helmet he was wearing straight through.

One can only imagine the damage the impact did to Schumacher’s skull and brain.

While chronologically the accident occurred a half-decade ago, for many of “Schu’s” most ardent fans, it seems like it was just yesterday when the earth-shattering news broke.

In the following days and weeks after his accident, Schumacher was placed in a medically induced coma, as well as had at least two surgeries on his brain.

Since then the world has waited for news about the racing legend’s condition, only to receive very little in terms of updates over the subsequent five years.

That’s the way his family wants it, having repeatedly requested privacy when it comes to details about Michael’s condition. That request for privacy should be respected.

Schumacher’s wife, Corrina, issued a rare statement late last month that didn’t really say much about her husband’s condition or recovery, but she did thank fans and well-wishers for their continued prayers and concern about her husband, adding, “We all know Michael is a fighter and will not give up.”

In the meantime, Schumacher’s fans have been able to stay somewhat close to his legacy by watching as his 19-year-old son, Mick, has showed significant achievement in his own budding racing career.

So much so that rumors have already popped up that the younger Schu may soon follow in his father’s F1 footsteps, perhaps as early as 2020.

That, of course, remains to be seen.

What makes the Schumacher situation so difficult for many to still understand is how, while enjoying a simple skiing excursion with his family, he suffered a life-changing accident while having survived some wicked crashes during his racing career that barely affected him.

We still don’t know if Schumacher can walk, talk, is conscious and lucid or not – and many of his fans have already accepted that we may never, ever know any of those details. But if that’s the way he and/or his family want it, again, then we need to respect their wishes.

At the same time, there’s another race car driver who suffered a horrendous injury at Pocono Raceway this past August, namely IndyCar driver Robert Wickens.

Wickens suffered a devastating spinal cord injury that has left him a paraplegic – although there remains a great deal of hope that he will one day walk again.

While both suffered serious injuries, there’s a significant contrast between Schumacher and Wickens. The former (or his family) is keeping all details about his condition private, while the latter keeps his fans and supporters regularly updated on social media on how he’s doing.

That includes Wickens posting a number of videos, including some rather humorous ones where he has a mischievous look in his eyes or a good-natured smirk on his face — like bringing in a Christmas tree to his rehab facility, or “racing” teammate James Hinchcliffe in wheelchairs in a Days of Thunder homage of sorts.

Watching each new Wickens video or reading his most recent online messages, it’s very clear that expressing himself and reaching out to the world is indeed good therapy and medicine of sorts for the Canadian driver.

He needs those social media posts and videos as much as we need them from him.

And it also helps fans better understand where Wickens is at in his recovery and rehab.

If Schumacher or his family wish to still remain private about his condition, we must respect that. But perhaps they could see the good will and good tidings that Wickens’ videos and posts offer. They’re as good for Wickens’ own well-being as they are for his fans — and they could be equally as good for Schumacher, his family and his fans.

Follow @JerryBonkowski