(Photo: Don Thompson/NASCAR)

Chase Hand following in father Joey’s footsteps

The versatility that NASCAR Cup Series road ringer Joey Hand has long been known for throughout his storied career is being passed down to his 15-year-old son Chase.

Making his full-bodied stock car debut at All-American Speedway last Saturday, Chase quickly worked his way through a small-but-competitive field of cars to take home a checkered flag in front of his family during the 20-lap Jr. Late Model field.

Chase was originally supposed to just practice the Late Model owned by Mike Mitchell, but the pace he showed in the days leading up to Saturday’s on-track activity led to the opportunity that turned into the proudest moment of his brief auto racing career so far.

“I was hoping for a win, but I didn’t think I’d actually get it done,” Chase Hand said. “We weren’t expecting to race it after practicing on Thursday. We qualified on pole, but the invert put us in the back. We avoided a couple of wrecks, got it to the front and pulled away on the last restart for the win.”

FLORACING: Follow the on-track action at All-American Speedway

Chase never once felt uncomfortable during his first venture into full-bodied stock car racing knowing he had Joey’s knowledge and experience to rely on.

Among Joey’s many accomplishments include class victories in the 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as the overall win in the 2011 24 Hours of Dayton with Chip Ganassi Racing, which he shared with Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Graham Rahal.

Whenever Joey was not busy seeking out the best competition around the world, he maintained his own successful karting operation in the United States. The go-kart team served as Chase’s first direct exposure to auto racing. He even took his first laps when he was just 4 years old.

Chase did not immediately share the same passion for auto racing as Joey, but he gradually gained an appreciation for it by spending more time around go-karts. He eventually confided with his father about becoming a driver himself.

“When I was 10 years old, a switch just flipped,” Chase said. “I was playing baseball and basketball, but I decided that I wanted to go racing. Like my dad, I enjoy battling others, passing and especially winning. The best feeling in the world is winning.”

Once Chase told him about his desire to race, Joey took it upon himself to make sure his son accumulated as much track time as possible at a young age.

Most of Joey’s free time away from his normal commitments is spent mentoring Chase. The two are always regularly searching for events that will help Chase gain valuable experience, whether that involves competing at the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina, or participating in major karting and Legends races around the country.

A big part of Joey’s philosophy as a driver is to always seek out opportunities to race different types of cars. Competing in NASCAR, IMSA, Supercars, DTM and other series have only broadened his knowledge on how to find success at any track.

Along with his dad having a prestigious road racing career, Chase Hand’s mother Natalie is a former go-kart champion herself. (Joey Hand Racing/Facebook)

By instilling that same mindset into Chase, Joey believes that he will be able to carve out a successful racing career regardless of the discipline.

“I’ve driven just about every type of car short of an F1 car,” Joey said. “The important thing is to be ready for anything. The more cars you can drive and adapt to quickly, the better you are, and that’s something I think Chase is very good at. All of this is going to come back and help [Chase] later.”

Even before his win at All-American, Joey had already started to observe several qualities in Chase that made him stand out from others on track.

Along with displaying raw speed on the track, Joey said Chase excels at avoiding trouble on the track and can adapt quickly to any situation. He also praised his son for being attentive when it comes to analyzing video and data away from the track.

With motorsports becoming increasingly reliant on technology, Joey said the copious amount of time away from the track is more important than ever, which is why he emphasizes to Chase the importance of using the simulator and film to improve himself before every race.

“Chase is smarter than me, so that’s a good start,” Joey said. “There’s a lot to racing these days, and it’s a different game once you get out of go-karts. People don’t always understand how little you get to drive in racing compared to football, basketball and baseball where you’re always practicing. That doesn’t happen in racing, so you need to understand data.”

While looking for ways to help Chase further develop his craft, a conversation with his long-time friend and Trackhouse Racing Team owner Justin Marks got Joey connected with Mitchell, who was Marks’ neighbor and wanted to become more involved with go-kart racing.

RACING REFERENCE: Career NASCAR stats for Joey Hand

The partnership between Joey and Mitchell has excelled at providing more resources for Chase and Mitchell’s daughter Kenna as they continue to gain more experience in go-karts, which eventually led to Chase climbing into Mitchell’s Jr. Late Model at All-American.

Joey expected that Chase would be fast in Mitchell’s car since Kenna had just won the Jr. Late Model title at All-American the year before, but watching Chase cross the start-finish line first proved to be a surreal moment for both him and his wife Natalie; a former go-kart champion herself.

Joey admitted that he is still processing the idea of Chase winning in the same types of cars he and Natalie competed in back when they were kids, but he has been thrilled by his son’s early success and said everyone in Chase’s support system is determined to help him build upon that first win at All-American.

“I’ve been racing for 32 years, so this is kind of a full-circle moment,” Joey said. “I’m doing everything over again with my son, but this is what I love to do. This is a great family of racers, and we’re happy to win the first time out of the box, but we know this doesn’t come easy. We’re constantly driving and working to get better.”

Chase Hand has taken his father’s advice and plans to accumulate as much track time as possible this year (Don Thompson/NASCAR)

There is currently no concrete plan for Chase to progressively through the ranks, as Joey still wants Chase to explicitly focus on go-karting and Legends racing. He also hopes that Chase can make a few more Late Model appearances before the 2022 season concludes.

Joey’s main goal for Chase is to make him a racer and have him capitalize on every opportunity that comes his way, but he also wants his son to find enjoyment in whatever career route he chooses to take.

For Chase, he is enjoying traveling to a variety of different tracks across the country and is eager to keep gaining more knowledge that will help become a more composed and well-rounded competitor.

“The more I drive, the more everything will come to me,” Chase said.

Chase has plenty of time to develop further behind the wheel and intends to maintain his commitment toward improving so he can one day have a diverse and prestigious resume just like his father.