The part-time Sprint Cup rookie finished fifth in Friday's Sprint Showdown CONCORD, N.C. -- Chase Elliott was staring down the prospect of a tangled Saturday travel schedule, leaving to fulfill the obligations of his full-time gig in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Iowa Speedway then returning to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 30th annual NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. His fifth-place finish in Friday night's Sprint Showdown preliminary left him out of Saturday night's main event and made the travel prospects a moot point, but the 19-year-old would've happily preferred the alternative -- his first appearance in the All-Star Race and more track time ahead of what he hopes will be his first Coca-Cola 600 next weekend -- no matter how bothersome the logistics. "I would've loved to have come back and run tomorrow night," Elliott said. "I think the more laps we can get before next week would've been helpful, but obviously not an option. But we'll try to go to Iowa and have a good run there. Hopefully we can go out there and compete with some good cars and try to get a win." Elliott still learned plenty in his first drive in a NASCAR Sprint Cup machine at Charlotte, moving up steadily from an 11th-place starting spot to snag a top-five finish by edging Austin Dillon at the checkered flag in the 40-lap All-Star tune-up. He'll miss out on the chance at 110 more laps in the Saturday night feature, but hopes to carry the lessons over into Coca-Cola 600 qualifying, where he'll have to make the 43-car field on the basis of speed. "Hopefully, just how to race here," Elliott said when asked what he had gleaned from his Showdown start. "This race race is so short, it's hard to move forward. You really need to qualify well, and I didn't do a good job there today. I think just a little bit of comfort there in qualifying will be important for next week and just learning a little bit of how to race here. "I know the lane is going move around a lot next week. I'm sure it'll move up to the wall and you'll see some guys really run up there for a long race like that, so hopefully we can have a good qualifying effort next week, get in the show and have a good run." Crew chief Kenny Francis has been atop the pit box for all of the Sprint Cup starts that have made up Elliott's warm-up for a full-time run in NASCAR's premier series next year, when he'll take the place of four-time champ Jeff Gordon in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. Though Friday night's Showdown consisted of two short 20-lap runs for two remaining All-Star berths, Francis preached patience over the team radio during the pace laps, another lesson that the teenager took to heart. "If you're not, you overrun the car and you overrun the tires and you end up just losing time," Francis said. "So it's a fine line of how to be patient, but you don't want to be overaggressive and end up losing ground. It's a tough deal, but he's good at it." Patience or not, Elliott still stormed from 11th place to a top-five finish in the final 20-lap segment, despite being boxed in during his pit stop in the halftime intermission. "To drive to fifth from wherever we started in 20 laps, I thought was pretty decent," Elliott said, "So, I was happy with that and how our car drove, the adjustments that Kenny made from how the thing drove in practice to how we raced, I thought was good and I learned a lot." Had Elliott snagged one of the final spots in the All-Star Race, he was prepared to fly up to Iowa Speedway for Saturday's practice and qualifying ahead before returning to Charlotte and then flying back to Iowa for Sunday's 3M 250 (2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN Radio, SiriusXM), the 10th of 33 XFINITY races this season. As it stands, he won't have extended double-duty this weekend, but aims for an even longer doubleheader next weekend in XFINITY (300 miles) and Sprint Cup (600 miles, NASCAR's longest race). The Sprint Showdown was a late addition to Elliott's Sprint Cup schedule, with the decision to field the Hendrick Motorsports No. 25 Chevrolet made just 10 days earlier. With Elliott's first taste -- albeit an abbreviated one -- of an All-Star weekend in the books, Francis said the team's goals were met. "The biggest thing is just get him some comfort for next week, so he's not coming here cold turkey," Francis said. "He's actually got some expectation of what he's going to come up against. I think he'll be way further ahead next week, so that was the main goal for tonight." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
XFINITY Series champ will look to race his way into Sprint All-Star Race Chase Elliott will attempt to make next weekend's Sprint All-Star Race by running in the Sprint Showdown on May 15 (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), Hendrick Motorsports announced on Tuesday. Elliott must win one of the two 20-lap segments in the No. 25 Chevrolet SS to make the Sprint All-Star Race on May 16. "I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to run the Showdown," Elliott said in a release provided by the team. "It allows me to gain more experience with my NAPA Auto Parts team before we race again at Charlotte a week later." The 19-year-old will be busy the weekend of the Sprint Showdown as the NASCAR XFINITY Series will be at Iowa Speedway that weekend as well. Elliott will go back-and-forth between Iowa and North Carolina that weekend. "I'm grateful to Mr. Hendrick and everyone at NAPA for the chance to do it," he said. Elliott has made two Sprint Cup Series starts already with a third coming the week after the All-Star Race in the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24. "Those additional laps will be a tremendous benefit when it's time to run 600 miles," Elliott said. The defending XFINITY Series champion is also slated to make starts this summer at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway . Hendrick's four full-time drivers: Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Kasey Kahne are already locked into participating in the Sprint All-Star Race. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Chase Elliott , Erik Jones and Brian Scott discuss the exciting finish to the 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway.
Complete news and notes about all 43 drivers and their Coca-Cola 600 results RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid after Charlotte 1. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Sticky feet didn't slow down Edwards, who stretched his fuel window to claim his first Charlotte 600 victory while pretty much locking up a spot in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . " NASCAR.com goes 1-on-1 with Edwards in Victory Lane 2. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle turned in his best showing of the year, starting fourth and earning runner-up honors in the season's longest race. " Biffle reflects on runner-up finish 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native overcame an early-race pit miscue to resume running in the top 10 by Lap 100 and earn his seventh top-five of the year. He now ranks fourth in the points. " Dale Jr. looks at top-five finish at Charlotte 4. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The pole winner closed 12 spots in the final 40 laps after making an unscheduled pit stop with less than 100 laps to go for a loose wheel. " Kenseth talks about late gamble 5. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Before a late-race fuel gamble didn't work out, Truex led a race-high 131 laps and radioed to his team, "I'm feeling like Superman for a few laps anyway." " Truex: 'It hurts to come home fifth' 6. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman earned the beneficiary of the free pass during the final caution period and closed 11 places in the final 40 laps. 7. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . New father Keselowski told his team early that his "ride quality is on par with Kentucky." He won at Kentucky last year, but had to settle for a top 10 (his eighth of the season) due to the fuel mileage game. " To hear more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView Premium today 8. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin, winner of the recent Sprint All-Star race, was pacing the 600 field with a migraine when a loose wheel prompted an unscheduled pit stop with 38 laps to go. " Hamlin visits media center after trip to infield care center 9. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick recorded his 11th top-10 result in 12 appearances this season to extend his grip on the points lead 10. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch lined up 14th and posted the fastest lap of the race on Lap 143 (188.153 mph), which was one of the 118 laps he led on Sunday. 11. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . In his first points race since the Daytona crash, Busch reassured his team he could run the full 600 miles. "Tell Erik (Jones, replacement driver) I feel good," Busch radioed his team. "10-4," crew chief Adam Stevens responded. "His bedtime's in about 20 minutes anyhow." " Busch passes big test at Charlotte 12. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne was tagged near the halfway point for speeding on pit road, but rallied to earn the beneficiary of the free pass and run inside the top 10 with 50 laps to go. 13. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . The birthday boy shook off debris in the first 24 laps to lead twice for 17 circuits on Sunday. 14. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard quietly toured Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval en route to his eighth top-15 result of the season. 15. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . After pacing the field to green in the Indy 500, Gordon lined up 18th in his Coca-Cola 600 finale and had a decent run until a loose wheel impacted his day. " Gordon leads Indy field to green 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon drove a new chassis to his best 1.5-mile result of the season. 17. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola earned the beneficiary of the free pass on the Lap 230 caution and found himself in position again for the free pass in the closing laps. 18. Chase Elliott , No. 25 Chevrolet. Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott , in his third Cup outing and first at a 1.5-miler, qualified 28th and mostly ran inside the top 25, despite dealing with a radio communication issue during the race. 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The two-time Charlotte winner had a ho hum day, running middle of the pack in his 26th appearance at the 1.5-mile track. 20. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer's frustration sparked a late-race decision to gamble on fuel mileage. "Might as well (gamble)," Bowyer radioed crew chief Brian Pattie. "Nothing to lose." " To hear more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView Premium today 21. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart was running a lap down when he got into the back of Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., who slid up the track ahead of him on Lap 302. 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick had to make two pit stops during the third caution flag after receiving damage from a dust-up with Clint Bowyer and Chase Elliott on pit road. 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears battled a lack of air conditioning and tried to stay cool during the season's longest race by taking ice bags during pit stops. 24. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish couldn't climb back from an early handling issue although he later ran lap times comparable to those inside the top 15. 25. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson qualified ninth, marking his first top-10 start at Charlotte, and ran as high as eighth before quietly fading. 26. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Encouraged early by crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr. not to overdrive it, Bowman went on to post his best intermediate track finish of the year. 27. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne's tough night was further impacted when he hit the wall on Lap 230 to bring out the fourth caution flag and halt 89 laps of green-flag racing. 28. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt liked his car during practice and ultimately turned in his best 2015 result on a 1.5-mile track. 29. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger required an unscheduled pit stop around Lap 160 when a hot dog wrapper stuck to his grille and raised temps. 30. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . McDowell spent the night looking for speed as he worked with his team on the handling of the No. 95 Ford. 31. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Spotter Tony Raines told Moffitt his car was faster than those ahead of him, but grip was a persistent problem. 32. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett, who dealt with a tight-handling condition early on Sunday, spun on the backstretch on Lap 328 to bring out the caution flag. 33. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland, who honored The Unknown Soldier with his car, led Lap 28 after choosing not to pit during the competition caution. 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto, making his third 1.5-mile start and his first at Charlotte, complained early of a loose-handling condition. 35. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise lined up 38th and got behind early, but still held on to post his best Charlotte result in his last four outings at the 1.5-mile track. 36. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. Making his Charlotte debut, Kennedy improved upon his earlier intermediate result this season at Texas Motor Speedway . 37. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse cracked the top 10 with 70 laps to go, but watched his second top-10 of the season slip through his fingers after he hit the wall eight laps later 38. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley was mired in traffic after being penalized during the competition caution when a crew member went over the wall too early. 3 9. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill followed the race on Sunday by physically running 14 miles to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in support of the Folds of Honor Foundation. " Cassill completes unique Memorial Day weekend double 40. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson spun on Lap 90 and saved his car in a move reminiscent of Kansas Speedway , where he was victorious. But he wasn't able to save it a second time after he spun on Lap 274 and collided with the inside pit wall. " Second spin crunches Johnson's No. 48 41. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . In the final third of the race, Ragan cited his water temperatures were fluctuating and ultimately was sidelined by an engine issue. 42. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney cracked the top 11 on Sunday, but his strong run was halted on Lap 282 when his engine blew up. 43. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier, in his third Charlotte start, retreated to the garage after getting into the wall between Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 136. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get caught up before Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX) MORE: NASCAR.com's picks for Charlotte " See all 43 cars for Charlotte What: 56th Annual Coca-Cola 600 Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway , Concord, N.C. When: Sunday, May 23, 2015 TV/Radio: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) Distance: 400 laps (600 miles) Green Flag: 6:18.30 p.m. ET Pit Road Speed: 45 mph Caution Car Speed: 55 mph Competition Caution : Lap 25 On The Front Row " Complete lineup for Sunday's race 1. Matt Kenseth , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (194.252 mph) 2. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (192.836 mph) Failed to Qualify Jeb Burton , BK Racing No. 26 Toyota; Mike Bliss , Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford; Travis Kvapil , Hillman SmithMotorsports No. 39 Chevrolet; Jeff Green , TMG No. 30 Chevrolet; Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet Fastest In Practice First Practice: Carl Edwards , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota (192.273 mph) " Full practice results Second Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (192.644 mph) " Full practice results Third Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (188.653 mph) " Full practice results Four Score? Matt Kenseth will start from the pole for the 15th time in his career when the Coca-Cola 600 gets under way. On three occasions, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has managed to also win the race – at Bristol in 2005 and '15 as well as Kansas in '13. "Back when I started, we worked hard on qualifying but we worked way harder on the race (setup) because even if we started 20th, we knew if we had a really good car we could drive up to the front and after a couple of pit stops we'd be in the top few," Kenseth said. "That's not necessarily the case today. You can start in the middle and you can be stuck in the middle all day sometimes. It's hard to make up ground." SHOP: Kenseth gear No. 450 for Biffle, McMurray Roush Fenway Racing 's Greg Biffle and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver Jamie McMurray will be making their 450th career starts in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series in the Coca-Cola 600 . Biffle's first start came April 28, 2002 at Auto Club Speedway . He finished 13th. McMurray's first start came later that same year, on October 6 at Talladega Superspeedway . Driving in a relief role for the injured Sterling Marlin, McMurray finished 26th. Front Row Joe(y) Team Penske driver Joey Logano qualified second for the Coca-Cola 600 , his seventh front-row start in 12 races this year. Since the 2014 season and the move to group qualifying, Logano has earned 15 top-two starts. SHOP: Logano gear Shorten the 600? "If they take that away or shorten it, it doesn't have the same challenge because that extra 100 miles is really hard. It puts extra wear and tear on your parts, your pieces, and your driver. It makes you change your strategy. And … it's something unique to our sport. … I like the challenge of that extra 100 miles once a year. I wouldn't want to do it twice a year." – former championship winning crew chief Ray Evernham Third Cup Start for Elliott Defending XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott will be making his third Sprint Cup Series start this weekend, qualifying the Hendrick Motorsports No. 25 Chevrolet 28th in the 43-car field. Elliott , the son of 1988 Sprint Cup champ and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott , finished 38th in his Sprint Cup debut earlier this year at Martinsville and 16th at Richmond. Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Charlotte based on past 20 races: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (111.6) Kyle Busch , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (106.7) Kasey Kahne , Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet (100.8) GALLERY: Check out the Memorial Day weekend patriotic paint schemes Chevy Stumble? For the first time this season, no Chevrolet drivers qualified in the top five. Points leader Kevin Harvick , in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet, led the GM charge and will start eighth. Lap Leaders Jim Paschal holds the record for most laps led by the winner in the Coca-Cola 600 , leading 335 of 400 en route to his victory at Charlotte in 1967 (it was then called the World 600). Race winner Jimmie Johnson led 334 of 400 in '04. The driver leading the most laps in the 600 and NOT winning the race is Junior Johnson, who led 289 in the '63 event but finished second to Fred Lorenzen after suffering a flat tire with fewer than five laps remaining. Defending Coca-Cola 600 Champion Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet Former Charlotte Winners In Field Jimmie Johnson (7); Jeff Gordon (5); Kasey Kahne (4); Kevin Harvick (3); Matt Kenseth , Jamie McMurray (2); Casey Mears , Tony Stewart , Brad Keselowski , Clint Bowyer , Kurt Busch (1). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
JR Motorsports driver eyes first top-10 finish at restrictor-plate track Much of the attention given to Chase Elliott lately has centered around his five scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts as he readies to replace Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet next season. Elliott performed well at Richmond Sunday, finishing 16th in just his second NSCS start. Quietly, the 19-year-old Georgia native has climbed to second in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings, eight points behind leader Ty Dillon . Elliott posted a fifth-place showing in last Friday's ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond, jumping Chris Buescher in the standings as he tries to defend his XFINITY Series championship. Since his 28th-place finish in the season-opener at Daytona, Elliott has produced seven consecutive top-10 finishes, including four top fives. The NASCAR Next alum will put his streak on the line in Saturday's Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway (3 p.m. ET on FOX). Restrictor-plate tracks have proven to be Elliott ’s kryptonite in his young career. He has only finished outside of the top 10 in eight of his XFINITY Series races (19.5%), including all four of his restrictor-plate contests. His best restrictor-plate finish was 15th at Daytona in his XFINITY Series debut last year. Elliott placed 19th at Talladega last spring. Elliott feels his experience at the Alabama track from last season has prepared him for Saturday's showdown. "It's really tough to plan for a race like this, since there's so much uncertainty that can happen," he said. "We were in contention last year late in the race, but got caught up in a wreck, which eventually killed our day. Going into this Saturday's race, I have more confidence knowing I've been in a late-race situation there." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Agreement for No. 24 starts in 2016 for driver's full-time Sprint Cup debut
Chase Elliott had taken the lead at Talladega but hits the wall with a flat right front after flat spotting them on pit road.
Defending series champion comes to Fontana with three straight top-10s Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live After starting the season with a disappointing 28th-place showing at Daytona International Speedway , Chase Elliott looks like he's back in his 2014 form. The same form that allowed the 19-year-old JR Motorsports driver to run away with the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship. Since Daytona, Elliott has registered two fifth-place finishes and a seventh-place showing. He will attempt to run for his fourth consecutive top 10 in Saturday's Drive4Clots.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (4 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). Elliott remains fond of the two-mile track where he finished sixth last season in his first-ever start there. "It's such a blast to race at Auto Club," he said. "There are so many different grooves drivers run, and that's what makes it so exciting. You may see four-wide as we fan out on restarts during Saturday's race. "If you're a race fan, this is a must watch, no question about it." Next weekend, Elliott will make his long-awaited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Martinsville Speedway , but first he must focus on defending his XFINITY Series title. The No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet driver ranks fourth in the standings, 25 points behind leader Ty Dillon . He hopes to close in on Dillon with a visit to Victory Lane. "The West Coast swing has been a good two weeks," Elliott said. "We are looking to close on a high note this weekend in California. A win would do that." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
XFINITY Series champ will start 27th on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Full starting lineup MARTINSVILLE, Va. – The weather issues might have been a concern, but nothing could dampen the spirits of Chase Elliott Friday at Martinsville Speedway . The 19-year-old will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut here in Sunday's 66th annual STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), thanks to a qualifying effort that will see his Hendrick Motorsports No. 25 Chevrolet start 27th in the 43-car lineup. Joey Logano ( Team Penske ) will start on the pole. "I don't know how I feel about being excited about being 27th, but at the same time it's really exciting to making our first Cup race," Elliott said. "It's just crazy how different a world this is on this side of things, being timed so close. Just a couple of hundredths (of a second) would have had us in the top 24, and a tenth would have had you, heck, up in the teens. "I was doing my best to get in and that was our goal today. Certainly a lot of pressure off to not have to worry about that tomorrow and we can focus on our race car for Sunday afternoon." Because the No. 25 team was making its first appearance and had no owner points, Elliott needed to qualify inside the top 36, ahead of at least nine others, to guarantee himself a spot in the field. Forty-five teams made at least one qualifying attempt. Elliott will move into the Sprint Cup Series full-time next season, taking over the No. 24 ride of four-time champion Jeff Gordon . For 2015, he'll make five attempts on the Sprint Cup side, with Richmond (April 25), Charlotte (May 24), Indianapolis (July 26) and Darlington (Sept. 6) completing his schedule. The defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champion and driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in that series, Elliott rolled out onto the Martinsville half-mile with a little over half the 20-minute opening session remaining. He was 22nd after the first lap and improved to 17th with a second trip around. A third lap produced the seventh fastest time at that time while a fourth lap failed to improve upon that effort. After pulling back into the garage, Elliott and his team watched as other drivers began posting faster laps. He had fallen to 27th when Ron Hornaday Jr . crashed to briefly bring the first round to a halt. Elliott went back out for a second shot at improving his position, briefly climbed back into the top 24, but then just as quickly was bumped back out. "The challenge was obviously the weather, and just the lack of laps," crew chief Kenny Francis said. "Now all that's behind us and he's got a chance to get some laps tomorrow and we can work on our car, think about it without near the stress. And we can lean on our teammates some." While the No. 25 group is part of the Hendrick organization, Friday's weather delay meant the four full-time teams of Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne were busy trying to map out their own strategies for practice and qualifying. Because of the rain, the start of Sprint Cup practice was delayed by more than two hours, and the planned session of an hour-and 25 minutes was squeezed into about 45 minutes. "That was another challenge; yeah, we're part of Hendrick but I mean we're on our own down here (on the far end of the garage)," Francis said. "With the weather and the lack of time, those guys are on their own agenda … so there's not much to collaborate on. "That was a bit challenging. It was fortunate we had a good baseline from the 24 car (of Gordon)." The STP 500 is the sixth of 36 races on this year's Sprint Cup Series schedule. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule