DRIVER: Chase Elliott / No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS
RACE: Talladega 400 (Race 10 of 36)
TRACK: Talladega Superspeedway
DATE: Sunday, May 1, 2016
NAPA ON THE NO. 24 CHEVROLET SS: After a two-week hiatus, NAPA AUTO PARTS will once again be the primary partner on board Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. NAPA will be the primary sponsor on the car for 17 additional Sprint Cup Series races this year.
ROOKIE RANKING: Elliott leads the 2016 Rookie of the Year contender standings heading into Talladega by 22 points over second-place Ryan Blaney and 35 points over third-place Brian Scott. Elliott has accumulated a total of 116 rookie points this year through the first nine races. Among active drivers, his five top-10 finishes rank second behind teammate Jimmie Johnson's six for the most top-10s through the first nine races of a rookie season.
IMPRESSIVE STATS: Elliott has earned six top-12 finishes in the first nine races of the 2016 season with five of those being top-10 finishes, including two top-five efforts at Bristol and Texas. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native secured his first top-10 finish of 2016 at his home track, Atlanta Motor Speedway. In addition to producing impressive end results, Elliott has been able to come back from a lap down to finish in the top 15 twice this year. According to NASCAR loop data, Elliott ranks fifth in percentage of quality passes this season with 59.6 percent.
QUICK QUALIFYING: Elliott may not have experience qualifying at Talladega in the Cup Series, but the young driver laid down a quick qualifying lap earlier this year in his first Cup plate race, earning the prestigious Daytona 500 pole position. The rookie became the youngest driver (20 years, 2 months and 17 days) to land the top spot in NASCAR's biggest race with a speed of 196.314 mph.
RACE TO THE CHASE: Elliott currently sits 11th in the standings, trailing points-leader Carl Edwards by 97 markers. Elliott is just 12 points outside of the top 10. The 20-year-old driver is six years younger than any driver currently inside of the top 16 with approximately one third of the regular-season races completed.
NO. 24 AT TALLADEGA: The No. 24 team earned its first win at Talladega in 1996 with the Chevrolet piloted by Jeff Gordon. After a rain delay and two red-flag conditions for major incidents, NASCAR halted the race due to darkness and Gordon, who had aptly displayed the art of preservation, was declared the winner. The team has gone on to earn five additional victories at the superspeedway as well as five pole awards and 20 top-10 finishes. In 2015, under the guidance of crew chief Alan Gustafson, the No. 24 team swept both pole positions in Talladega qualifying.
TESTING AT THE BRICKYARD: Hendrick Motorsports is sending Elliott and the No. 24 team to the enclave of Speedway, Indiana, to represent the organization this Tuesday and Wednesday during Goodyear’s tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This will be the first time that Elliott and Gustafson will work together on the 2.5-mile track. Last summer, Elliott made his track debut at IMS, starting 28th and racing his way to an 18th-place finish. It was one of five points-paying Cup races the rookie started under the guidance of then-crew chief Kenny Francis. Elliott will be available in the media center on Wednesday from 12:35 to 12:45 p.m.
Driver Quote | Chase Elliott
“Talladega is always known for close finishes and I’m excited to get back. The racing there, you can’t really compare it to anything else. Talladega is a special place because it’s a historic race track for our sport. I remember watching a lot of races there. My dad still has that qualifying record and it’s obviously very impressive. It says a lot of him, Uncle Ernie and Uncle Dan, and really everybody who worked on those cars back then. They all went the extra mile to make things like that happen. So, when I think about that, it just takes the respect level that I already have for all that they did with what they had back then, and makes it even greater.” – Elliott on Talladega