The Latest: Kevin Harvick raves about Chase Elliott’s role

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) The Latest on Daytona 500 media day (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

Kevin Harvick has high expectations for budding star Chase Elliott.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup champion called Elliott the ”biggest tie to our grass-roots NASCAR fan.” Elliott is the 22-year-old son of Hall of Fame driver Bill Elliott. Both hail from Dawsonville, Georgia.

”I feel like he’s one of the most important ingredients in what NASCAR racing does going forward because of his family name,” Harvick said at Daytona 500 media day. ”He has the legacy that’s already been built in this sport by his dad. He’s come into this sport with a great name and already proven that he’s going to be competitive. He has those southeast, NASCAR ties to those core fans that none of the rest of us will ever have. He’s the guy.”

Elliott, entering his third full season at Hendrick Motorsports, in winless in 77 career Cup starts. He has 12 top-five finishes last year, including five runner-ups.

”When he wins the first time, you’re going to see things that you haven’t seen in a long time from fan reaction and just enthusiasm about this sport,” Harvick said. ”And when that happens, it’s going to be good for all of us.”

– Mark Long

11:45 a.m.

The green flag is about to drop on Daytona 500 media day.

There’s plenty to talk about heading into Sunday’s race. The field has undergone a dramatic youth movement, and new stars seem to be the sport’s focus. Alex Bowman is on the pole for the season-opening race and fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron is set to make his Cup series debut.

Kurt Busch will try to defend his Daytona 500 championship, and Martin Truex Jr. opens defense of his 2017 series title.

Darrell Wallace Jr. will make history as the first black driver since 1969 to start the Daytona 500.

Danica Patrick is still around, at least for one more race. She’ll make her final NASCAR start as part of the ”Danica Double” that has her ending her career back in open-wheel racing at the Indianapolis 500.

– Dan Gelston

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