If never being satisfied is the key to success, Chase Elliott is well on his way to becoming a competitive driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series when he replaces Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports next year.
The reigning XFINITY Series champion made his second cup start at Richmond International Raceway in the rain-delayed Toyota Owners 400 Sunday, earning an encouraging 16th place finish in his No. 25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. It was especially satisfying after a 38th place result at Martinsville Speedway in his first Cup start a month ago.
Elliott raced his way up to 11th twice during the race, but his car struggled on short runs. He acknowledged that he could have done a better job of relaying information to his team.
“Guys made good adjustments for qualifying to get us in the show,” he said “and our car today had great long-run speed. Unfortunately, these races never ran to the long run. It’s always going to be a short run to the finish, and I didn’t tell them to do the right things for that last stop to run a short run. Lesson learned, and we’ll try to get better for the next one.”
While Elliott said he was uncertain why the end results of the two races were so dramatically different, he assumed some of the blame for the disappointing finish at Martinsville, saying, “I wish I had an answer for you. I don’t really know. You know, like I said, I felt like at Martinsville, too, we had a good car. I didn’t do my job like I needed to there, and got us in a wreck 60 laps into the race, and that’s not the thing to do.”
He was able to stay out of harm’s way at Richmond and felt like the team “put together a solid race,” explaining, “Fortunately we were able to run laps today, able to stay on the lead lap and battle really hard, especially towards the end of those long runs, and to race with some good cars. I think that’s something our team should be proud of.”
But like all racers, Elliott is searching for more.
“You always get greedy and want more,” he admitted, “and we certainly had a great car really today, and I thought we were battling right there on the edge of that top 10 there at points, and we had great speed, as I said, on the longer runs.”
Elliott’s third Sprint Cup Race is scheduled for Charlotte Motor Speedway next month where he hopes to turn lessons learned into even better finishes.