NASCAR driver Chase Elliott still busy soaking up experience

Chase Elliott (left) will take over for Jeff Gordon (right) in the No. 24 Chevrolet for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. But he still has some remaining goals for 2015.
Chase Elliott (left) will take over for Jeff Gordon (right) in the No. 24 Chevrolet for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. But he still has some remaining goals for 2015. Getty Images

Chase Elliott has had a lot going on this NASCAR season. As he has stayed in contention to win the Xfnity Series’ championship, he is also thinking ahead to 2016, when he will take over for the retiring Jeff Gordon to drive the No. 24 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott, the son of NASCAR great Bill Elliott, recently answered questions from reporters, including the Observer’s David Scott.

Q. What’s your opinion of Cup regulars driving in Xfinity races?

A. I think it’s good to have the opportunity to race against the Cup guys when you are first getting going. I know that is a mixed subject, but in my opinion I think it’s good. I think there is a lot of great experience to be gained. It allows you to get used to some of the things that you might see later on down the road a little bit at a time instead of being thrown at you all at once.

Q. How would you rate your performance in the Xfinity car this season?

A. I think for the most part we have been working in the right direction. I have especially been pleased with just the work ethic of our guys and just how hard they have been working and not giving up in this last stretch of the season.

There is not a whole lot of racing left (with) only nine races to go. We are going to keep digging and hopefully try to put ourselves in position to give ourselves a chance to hopefully win a race or two and try to gain some points.

Q. What was your Cup experience like this season?

A. The biggest thing is having to qualify into these races. It’s not the most easing feeling going into qualifying knowing that you are not in the show. Definitely Martinsville, as everybody saw, was a bad day for me. Definitely not the way I wanted to get things started.

Since then, I thought Richmond went really good. Indy was OK, had a good time at Charlotte, thought we had a good car there and got some damage.

I think as a whole five races to be with a new group of guys for the most part working with Kenny Francis (crew chief), I think has been good. It’s not a ton of time. I think all those guys have done a really good job to kind of progress that learning curve between myself and the team.

As I came in to run these five races everybody was really open and eager to get going. I think that is the mindset you have to have. I think the No. 24 guys will be the same way as we move into next year and get going.

Q. How has your dad’s NASCAR legacy inspired you?

A. Obviously Dad has played a huge role in my racing. He has been around since Day 1 and I can count on one hand the amount of races he has missed in my career. That says a lot.

He’s a busy guy and he has a lot of things to do. But he has made a point to go to a lot of my races and he is definitely the reason I have the opportunity I’ve had today. We have done a lot of racing together, been fortunate to go to a lot of racetracks, and he has definitely been involved in a major way.

Q. Has it sunk in yet that you will drive the No. 24 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports next year?

A. As far as the Cup races go for next year it really hasn’t sunk in yet. As I’ve told a bunch of people, I don’t know that is really going to set in until we get there and get going.

There is just so much going on I don’t think it’s really had time to set in. I think as we get closer and closer to Daytona and we get through the end of this season I’m sure as conversations ramp up and more meetings start to happen.

(When) we start going to get fitted in seats and all that stuff, I think that is when it’s going to start to set in and definitely when we get to Daytona and start those practices down there it will be a special moment for me.”

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