DRIVER: Chase Elliott / No. 24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet SS
DATE: April 17, 2016
EVENT: Food City 500 (Round 8 of 36)
SERIES: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
LOCATION: Bristol Motor Speedway
POINTS: 12th, 205 points (82 points out of first)
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet SS with NAPA AUTO PARTS as a major associate partner for Hendrick Motorsports captured a career-best fourth-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon. The strong finish came after Elliott earned the first top-five finish of his career last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 20-year-old rookie started Sunday’s race beside teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 19th and by Lap 83 Elliott had found the top 15. On Lap 110 he cracked the top 10 and moved to ninth place just before the caution flag waved on Lap 117. Elliott continued to race in and around the top 10 until Lap 177 when he was forced to make an unscheduled stop on pit road due to a loose right-rear wheel. He returned to the track two laps down in 32nd, but thanks to multiple cautions and guidance from his Kelley Blue Book team, Elliott was able to take two wave-arounds and eventually returned to the lead lap.
“Fantastic job, buddy,” No. 24 team crew chief Alan Gustafson told Elliott over the radio as the rookie found 17th place on Lap 330.
The rookie raced into the top 15 on Lap 365 and gained momentum from there, moving up to 10th just 20 laps later. After nine more laps he raced into seventh and a big pass with 78 laps to go moved Elliott up to fifth. Four laps after that the rookie worked his way up to third with 74 laps remaining.
“You can do this,” Gustafson said to Elliott before a restart with 34 laps to go. When the green flag dropped, the rookie jumped from fourth to second, chasing down the leader. Two late-race cautions thwarted his run for a victory, but Elliott still managed to capture his career-best Sprint Cup finish with a fourth-place result and his second straight top-five finish.
“I just had a really good Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet today,” Rookie of the Year contender Elliott said after the race concluded. The guys brought a fast car here this weekend. I didn’t qualify as well as we wanted to on Friday, but we hit on a couple of things, I thought, right there towards the end of final practice yesterday that we really liked. Fortunately, that carried over to today and I was able to move forward. I hated to have a loose wheel, but that happens. The guys did a good job having a good pit stop under green. It was a long day but I’m definitely proud of the effort. We’re chipping away.”
Elliott’s teammate, Earnhardt, led the four-car Hendrick Motorsports contingent to the checkered flag finishing second. Kasey Kahne finished 17th and Jimmie Johnson took home a 23rd-place result.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule will be at Richmond International Raceway on Sunday, April 24th. The event begins at 1:00 p.m. ET with live coverage provided by FOX.