At age 19, Chase will attempt to qualify for first Sprint Cup race Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Think about this for a moment: Chase Elliott , son of the ever-popular Bill Elliott , will attempt to make his Sprint Cup Series debut at Martinsville Speedway , a track steeped in history and tradition, for Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Not only does he need to qualify for the race -- with Team Xtreme withdrawing, there are 45 cars on the entry list; 43 make the race -- but Elliott also will need to do it without having the benefit of much time spent in a Sprint Cup Series seat. And if that's not enough, if he qualifies for the race -- which is expected to be attended by none other than Richard Petty -- Elliott will do so at a younger age than Jeff Gordon did in 1992. Throughout his short history as a national series driver, Elliott has shown an unflappable, even-keel approach en route to such heights as last season's XFINITY Series title. But if any weekend were to test his Zen-like calm, who could blame him if this were the one? "If I wasn't nervous come this weekend, then I'd think something was wrong with me," Elliott said. "I think that should be the case. With as much excitement as this weekend brings I think you're going to have some nerves to go along with it. I'm looking forward to experiencing both of those sensations." If his nerves indeed need some calming, then Elliott can go to bat knowing he will have Gordon on his side. Jeff just happens to be tied with HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson for the most Cup wins at the track among active drivers with eight, so it's not like he's coming at Chase with a blank slate. "I think for me, Jeff will probably be the guy I lean on most this weekend," Elliott said. "One, our car is being prepared out of the 24 and 5 shop. Just to be familiar with that group of guys and how they do things, I think that only makes sense to kind of lean on those guys more than anybody else with the plans for next year. Last time I checked, Jeff had run a handful of races at Martinsville; I feel like he'll have some good information and a lot to be learned talking to him." Elliott said he hasn't driven a Cup car since January of 2014, and most of that experience was at Nashville Superspeedway, a 1.33-mile concrete track that was used for testing. Plus, in the time since Elliott drove a Cup car, a lot has changed thanks to the 2015 rules package. Add in the fact that Elliott will be working with crew chief Kenny Francis for the first time, and there are a lot of challenges he'll be facing beyond just the normal task of driving on a tough, tight 0.526-mile track. But besides having Gordon and the entire HMS team on his side, Elliott also has the benefit of it being a break in the XFINITY Series schedule. Therefore, he can concentrate on the very tall task at hand. But as one might expect, his own expectations for his first Cup race sound pretty reasonable. "Hopefully, for me, I just want to execute all weekend and put together a solid week," Elliott said. "I think for us, if we can run all the laps and stay on the lead lap and battle to run in the top 15, I feel like that's a great day to shoot for. I feel like that's possible and that would be a really good day." Of course, if he does something more than that, then it could add to the track's already thick history. It's a history that will be on the young driver's mind. "I think back of all the times I've gone to Martinsville to watch my dad race," Elliott said. "Even not that long ago. Weird to think I'm going to go run a Cup race and not be watching. ... Such a great opportunity and I want to make the most of it." Senior writer Holly Cain contributed to this report. 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
Watch as NASCAR.com writer Holly Cain rides along with Jimmie Johnson through Las Vegas on the NASCAR Victory Lap.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Dale Earnhardt Jr . finished in the top 10 after a last-place effort last week. How'd he bounce back? Taylor Starer reports from Fontana. Plus, recap the Auto Club weekend in GIF form, and read a note on every driver in the 43-car field in The Rundown. TUESDAY: Kevin Harvick has eight consecutive finishes of second or better dating back to last season. No. 1 in the Power Rankings? For sure. But who's behind him in No. 2? Plus our weekly video of the best sounds from the scanner. WEDNESDAY: Check out the new paint schemes for this weekend's action at Martinsville Speedway . THURSDAY: Have you been bitten by the March Madness bug? Stay tuned as NASCAR.com presents its own version of March Madness, complete with fan voting. We'll be in the semifinal round Thursday. Zack Albert will write on Danville Speedway and its link to NASCAR and Wendell Scott, and @nascarcasm also chimes in on something historic -- the Martinsville hot dog. FRIDAY: Cars are on track in Martinsville. Visit us for live leaderboards throughout the day, plus the best tweets of the week. Also coming this week: Holly Cain previews Chase Elliott 's first scheduled Sprint Cup Series start ... How is Kurt Busch holding up after a near-miss at Fontana? Cain has that story, too ... Senior writer Kenny Bruce takes a deep dive on Martinsville, the original NASCAR facility.
NASCAR.com writer Holly Cain's in-car video of her Victory Lap ride with Jimmie Johnson.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Dale Earnhardt is off to one of the best starts to a season of his career, and he's doing it with a new crew chief. Learn why he and Greg Ives have had a strong beginning. And find out why NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell is meeting with Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman . TUESDAY: Will Kevin Harvick 's win at Las Vegas make him No. 1 in our Power Rankings? Plus our weekly video of the best sounds from the scanner. WEDNESDAY: Check out the new paint schemes for this weekend's action at Phoenix International Raceway . THURSDAY: Who are the ones to watch for your NASCAR Fantasy Live and Streak to the Finish teams? Driver Reports breaks down the best at Phoenix. FRIDAY: The "NASCAR Illustrated" weekly preview catches up with Phoenix native JJ Yeley. Also, we'll give you the eight best NASCAR-related tweets of the week. Also coming this week: From @nascarcasm -- A new feature on the Facebook page of this week's winner ... senior writer Holly Cain has a story on Stewart-Haas Racing 's struggles despite Harvick's success ... senior writer Kenny Bruce will preview and cover this week's Sprint Cup Series test at Charlotte Motor Speedway .
After Atlanta, NASCAR shortened practice to allow more time for inspection Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live LAS VEGAS -- An extra 15 minutes to complete the inspection process ensured there wasn't a repeat of last week's qualifying ordeal in which 13 drivers were never cleared to run a lap. Friday's session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway still wasn't without incident, though. Brad Keselowski 's No. 2 Team Penske Ford cleared inspection prior to the start of the group session and was resting on pit road when it was called back to the inspection line minutes before the first qualifying round was to begin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . NASCAR said an official saw a No. 2 crew member pull on the car's wheel wells on pit road prior to qualifying. Keselowski's car was again cleared, and he returned to pit road in the midst of the qualifying session, ultimately advancing to the final round and finishing 11th. "They saw something they wanted to have a closer look at back here in the template area, so we brought the car back here for them to look at," Team Penske Competition Director Travis Geisler told NASCAR.com. "They got one of the templates out they felt like maybe we weren't in compliance with and we worked with them and they worked with us to making sure everything is right. It's part of what NASCAR does best, they work really hard to make sure it's an even playing field. " … It raises the pulse a little bit, but fortunately we got through all that and I don't think it impacted our performance at all." Following last week's inspection delays, NASCAR shortened opening Sprint Cup practice from 85 minutes to 75 at Las Vegas, and for the ensuing races at Phoenix International Raceway and Auto Club Speedway . The extra time, plus an extra five minutes, was used toward the inspection process. Jeff Gordon won Friday's Coors Light Pole, the 79th of his career, posting a speed of 194.679 mph. Gordon didn't log a qualifying lap last week, but his car was cleared Friday -- even though he had to go through twice. RELATED: Gordon earns Coors Light Pole award at Las Vegas "After last week and that all mess, it was great to get out there and qualify," Gordon said. "Somehow they got the cars out there this time. We had to go through twice. We know where we're trying to push the limits and where we're not, and when you don't push the limits and don't change a thing and something (measures differently), that's not good. "There were a ton of cars that had to go through a second time. Luckily NASCAR shortened the practice 10 minutes, but I think maybe (this process) is going to take a while." -- NASCAR.com's Holly Cain contributed to this report 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
Six-time champ says it never gets old during "Victory Lap" burnout
See who our staff members pick to take the checkered flag Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Members of the NASCAR.com editorial team make their picks for the Great American Race below. Who do you have? Let us know in the comments section. Zack Albert Denny Hamlin . Joe Gibbs Racing cars have shown plenty of oomph so far in Speedweeks, making Matt Kenseth another Daytona favorite. Sunday, it should be Hamlin's turn in Victory Lane. Kenny Bruce Dale Earnhardt Jr. Strong all week, and probably as pumped as he's ever been about his team and his car. Holly Cain Jimmie Johnson. Pat DeCola Jimmie Johnson. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has been unstoppable thus far at Speedweeks, but he's coming off one of his worst seasons to date -- making Johnson the rare "dark horse favorite." The No. 48 Chevrolet swept both Daytona races in his 2013 championship season but hadn't finished higher than 20th in the six Daytona races prior to that. Still, I've got a feeling. Stu Hothem Dale Earnhardt Jr. After last Saturday's first practice, the defending Daytona 500 champion said he had the fastest car in the field. On the 20th anniversary of the last back-to-back winner (Sterling Marlin) going to Victory Lane, Earnhardt will join Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon and NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett, Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough with three or more wins in the Great American Race. RJ Kraft Carl Edwards. The Joe Gibbs Racing stable has been as strong as the Hendrick Motorsports fleet during Speedweeks, with the veteran showing plenty of speed. It will be the organization's newest driver that brings Joe Gibbs his first trip to Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 since 1993. Brad Norman Tony Stewart. His car is fast, and Stewart seems more like the 'Smoke' of old than at any other point over the past two years. Plus, he's just due for a good break at Daytona. Jessica Ruffin Jeff Gordon. The three-time Daytona 500 champion is starting from the pole position, has a dynamic duo of Hendrick Motorsports teammates helping him in the front and his No. 24 Chevrolet SS has showcased its speed the entire week. But above all, with this event marking his final Daytona 500, Gordon has plenty of motivation to take the checkered one last time in the Great American Race. Taylor Starer Jeff Gordon. The four-time Cup champion is starting his final Great American Race as a full-time driver from the pole — what more motivation does he need to do well? Three previous Daytona 500 wins under his belt doesn't hurt, either. George Winkler Dale Earnhardt Jr. He becomes the first back-to-back winner of the Daytona 500 since Sterling Marlin in 1995. Junior's car has looked fast all week -- he won in the Daytona Duels -- and he has a strong history in this race (series-best 99.6 driver rating, two previous Daytona 500 wins). MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Martin Truex Jr. has had an awful recent streak of bad luck on and off the track -- it's why he's celebrating a good start to 2015. TUESDAY: Logano ... Johnson ... Earnhardt Jr. ... Harvick. Just who is No. 1 in our Power Rankings? Plus our weekly video of the best sounds from the scanner. WEDNESDAY: Check out the new paint schemes for this weekend's action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. THURSDAY: Who's best at Las Vegas? It might surprise you. Driver Reports will have the full story. FRIDAY: Can't be on social media all week? No worries. We'll give you the eight best NASCAR-related tweets of the week. Also coming this week: From @nascarcasm -- Why the safety workers were the (hilarious) stars at Atlanta ... senior writer Holly Cain has a story on the Las Vegas race, which won't have either of the hometown Busch brothers entered ... senior writer Kenny Bruce will analyze the new rules package, which has drivers and crew chiefs thrilled with the racing.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Joey Logano and Roger Penske make the media circuit -- see what they have to say. TUESDAY: Does Joey Logano's Daytona 500 win vault him to the top of our weekly Power Rankings ? Plus our weekly video of the best sounds from the scanner. WEDNESDAY: Check out the new paint schemes for this week's tripleheader at Atlanta Motor Speedway. THURSDAY: Driver Reports will give you a great leg up on setting your Fantasy Live lineup this week. FRIDAY: Can't be on social media all week? No worries. We'll give you the eight best NASCAR-related tweets of the week. Also coming this week: The NOSCARS , a mix of NASCAR and the Oscars by none other than @nascarcasm ... Remember last year, when a squirrel ran across the track at Atlanta? The F-Post team does, and they'll have a video on it ... senior writer Holly Cain has a column on Jeff Gordon following his final Daytona 500 ... senior writer Kenny Bruce will be on the ground in Atlanta on Thursday for a pair of testing sessions .