February 26, 2024

Unraveling the Myth of Chase Elliott’s ‘No Personality’

Amidst the roar of engines and the high-speed drama, a curious narrative persists: Chase Elliott, many fans claim, “has no personality”.

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Let’s set the record straight: EVERYONE has a personality. This seems to be confusing to fans and podcasters alike who parrot the “no personality” description without understanding the definition of the word. Personality is the combination of characteristics that form an individual’s distinctive character. So, if we equate flamboyance with personality, we’re doing a disservice to the quiet, the measured, and the composed that are among us. And Chase Elliott epitomizes these qualities. His understated demeanor is not a lack of personality; it IS his personality.

To single out Elliott is to conveniently ignore the similarities he shares with teammates like Kyle Larson and William Byron, whose steadfast composure and post-race comments often mirror Elliott’s own. They, too, are downplayed and choose measured and respectful words over unfiltered outbursts. Alex Bowman’s own reserve aligns closely with Elliott’s—unless, of course, he lets the biting sarcasm slip when frustration breaks through his restrained veneer.

Perhaps it’s Elliott’s deep voice, thick with a casual Southern drawl and an even keel, that causes listeners to superficially mislabel him as “bland.” But this is a narrative that’s formed from selective listening and one that conveniently neglects how very similar many of the drivers are in their public personas.

Indeed, when we turn to other drivers like Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, and Chris Buescher, we find a similar pattern of professionalism and restraint that rivals Elliott’s own. Their interviews and public commentaries rarely deviate from the same formula of controlled communication, often with the very same wording. This is not a sign of lacking personality; it’s a strategy for maintaining composure in a sport that is as mentally demanding as it is physically.

But the opposite end of the scale also draws wrath from fans, where drivers are either ridiculed, memed, or outright hated for their public displays. Consider drivers who are more openly emotional or controversial. For example, on the lower end of the scale, Joey Logano is often accused of laughing or smiling too much, and he’s mocked for it. AJ Allmendinger’s hyperactive response after a race win causes fans to label him as ‘too much’ and ‘over-the-top’. Until recently, Kyle Busch was considered a polarizing figure due to his outspoken nature and emotional reactions. Taking his place is Denny Hamlin, whose aggressive driving style, hypocrisy, and divisive comments have earned him social media backlash and grandstands full of boos during driver introductions.  And then there’s Bubba Wallace, who runs the gamut of uncontrolled emotions within his actions and speech and faces overwhelming backlash for it.

So, what is too little, and what is too much? What is it that NASCAR fans are seeking when it appears that they crave “personality” yet criticize those who step outside the bounds of their definitions of acceptability?

If temper is what fans are looking for, Elliott gave it to them in 2017 when he confronted Denny Hamlin at Martinsville, and again in 2023 when he became frustrated with Hamlin at Charlotte and hooked him in the right rear.  If flamboyance is what they seek, they saw it with his 2019 win at the Roval when he completed his burnout against the wall where he had crashed earlier and then emerged from the smoke while standing atop the rolling car. If sarcasm is what denotes personality, it’s been on full display numerous times.

But the fact is, in a sport like NASCAR, the drivers provide us with entertainment on the track. They shouldn’t be expected to climb out of the car after hours of racing in an uncomfortable environment and entertain us yet again with shenanigans and pre-rehearsed sound bites.  This isn’t the WWE. And when it comes to Elliott specifically, it doesn’t appear this tired and overused narrative is going to end anytime soon, particularly when commenters online and podcasters as well—we’re not naming any names, but you know who you are—admit that they say it simply because “everyone else does”.

As fans, it’s time to reconsider our biases and embrace the spectrum of personalities that drive the sport we love. Let’s celebrate drivers like Elliott, whose composure is a testament to a different kind of charisma, for it’s within their reserve that we find a depth of character.