Chase Elliott talks about how suprised he was to hear that Jeff Gordon was retiring and how he never expected to be the one to take over the No.24 car.
Chase Elliott talks about being happy with a top-five finish in the Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
Late pass by Busch leaves Elliott with runner-up finish at Michigan RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings BROOKLYN, Mich. -- There wasn't so much of a silver lining Saturday afternoon for Chase Elliott , not after a surprise spring into the late-race lead and slight fade to second place, matching his best finish of the NASCAR XFINITY Series season. "I'll be honest," Elliott said. "Second does not feel good -- to me, at least." A win remains an elusive thing for the defending series champion, 13 races into the XFINITY season. Elliott led four laps -- his first since another runner-up finish at Iowa Speedway last month -- but was unable to hold off eventual Great Clips 250 winner Kyle Busch , who drove past him with four laps remaining to make his return to the series a victorious one. Though Busch was coming in with some XFINITY Series rust, idle since February as he recuperated from severe leg injuries in the season-opening race at Daytona, Elliott said he was by no means green in his second XFINITY start of the year. "He's obviously really good at what he does," Elliott said of Busch. "I really don't have an excuse for you. Yeah, he outran me." Elliott opened at a slight deficit after a miscalculation during qualifying kept him from making a lap in the last round, leaving him with the 12th and final starting spot among the final group. From there, the 19-year-old JR Motorsports driver pushed his No. 9 Chevrolet to the fringes of the top five in the first 20 laps. With the good fortune of an even-numbered running position during a handful of late-race caution periods, Elliott found himself in the more advantageous outside lane to make up even more ground on restarts during the race's second half. Elliott was lined up in the second row for the final restart with 10 laps left. When front-runners Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick tangled and sailed up out of the groove in a battle for the lead during the 117th of 125 laps, the teenager -- with a front-row seat for the fracas -- took advantage to grasp the lead for the first time all race. "It can happen at any given point. We see that every week," Elliott said of the contact in front of him. "When you have a car on your outside, the car on the inside is at a large disadvantage, especially depending on how much he crowds you so that can happen. I didn't really foresee it happening, not with those two, but you're racing hard for a win and people make mistakes. They made a mistake, but they didn't wreck and that's the difference there." After the parting of the Logano-Harvick seas, Elliott had clear sailing in front but a fast-closing Busch making headway toward the front. Once the Sprint Cup regular placed the youngster in his mirrors, Elliott radioed crew chief Ernie Cope to say he was wide-open on the throttle but powerless to keep Busch at bay. With the benefit of hindsight, Cope said post-race on pit road that he second-guessed the amount of downforce he had in the JRM No. 9, saying he needed a slightly smoother race trim to keep pace. "We just need a little bit," Cope said. "We've kind of changed our philosophy with how we've been running the car, and this is a step in the right direction. We just need to keep going that direction." That direction heads next weekend to Chicagoland Speedway , site of an XFINITY stand-alone event. Since next weekend's 300-miler won't be held in conjunction with the Sprint Cup Series, the amount of top-level double-dippers traveling to the Illinois track will likely be greatly reduced, potentially providing more opportunity for an XFINITY Series regular to visit Victory Lane. Rather than seeing Chicagoland as a ripe race to pick, Elliott said he would rather welcome the competition from Sprint Cup moonlighters. "I would much rather outrun people who are here at a companion event, to be honest with you, just so I don't have to listen to questions like that after a race up there," Elliott said. "That's just me. I enjoy racing companion weekends. I think it's good for everybody and definitely makes you feel better if you are able to outrun all the guys at those races." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver paces field with best speed of 191.215 mph RELATED: Full practice results Chase Elliott came out of nowhere to squeak to the top of the leaderboard in the final seconds of the day’s only XFINITY Series practice on Friday, making his way around Michigan International Speedway at a blistering pace of 191.215 mph. Aric Almirola had just bumped his way to the top seconds earlier to finish second at 190.446 mph. Brian Scott and Chris Buescher had been tied atop the leaderboard for most of the session before falling to third and fourth, respectively. The pair of series regulars finished with a 190.285 mph clip around the 2-mile track, enough to best Buescher’s Roush Fenway Racing teammate Darrell Wallace Jr . (190.134 mph, who placed fifth) and Scott’s Richard Childress Racing teammate and defending race winner Paul Menard (190.114 mph, who placed sixth) Kyle Busch , making his first return to XFINITY Series competition since a crash in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway sidelined him for several months, was seventh on the chart 190.019 mph. After rain washed out the first practice session, the final practice started nine minutes early and ran until 3:55 p.m. ET. Qualifying for Saturday’s Great Clips 250 Benefiting Paralyzed Veterans of America (1:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) is set to begin earlier in the day at 10:15 a.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. 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 discusses taking the lead and trying to hold off Kyle Busch in the closing laps of the Great Clips 250 at Michigan.
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
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
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