There was a lot to like about his rookie season for NASCAR driver Chase Elliott.
Although he didn’t win a race in 2016, Elliott won the pole for the Daytona 500, finished second twice and advanced to the playoffs, where he made it to the second round.
Now, with the 2017 season fast approaching, Elliott is ready to avoid that dreaded “sophomore slump.”
“You hope you can continue forward and not look at it as Year 2,” said Elliott. “You have to go about it as a new season, as boring as an answer as that it is. You have to see the challenges as they come.”
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Elliott learned plenty from his first season on the Cup series. Cup race weekends are long – with drivers often arriving on Thursday and not leaving until Sunday night after the race. There are at least four practice sessions to drive in, as well as qualifying – all before the race even begins.
You have to see the challenges as they come.
“That extra day at the race track – racing Saturday and having Sundays off – to being there Friday, Saturday and Sunday makes a bigger difference than you’d think,” Elliott said. “There is so much practice time throughout the week. You practice Friday then qualify on Friday night. You have time to think about it Friday night and then practice on Saturday. Then you have time to think about it Saturday and then you race.”
And, sometimes, that can be a little too much time.
“Sometimes you have to step back and realize that the setup, your car and your mentality coming into the race weekend … nine times out of 10 you have the most confidence in that when you get there,” Elliott said. “It’s easy to steer away from that and steer yourself off track. Just being mindful of what you came with and try not to get yourself too messed up is key.
“From a setup perspective or finding something new from a driving side, it’s easy to do when you have that much track time on a weekend. You can certainly mess yourself up if you’re not too careful.”