Chase Elliott’s ‘rut’ may be what helps him earn his first career Cup win

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Chase Elliott remains stuck in a rut of sorts.

But if finishing second three straight times at Michigan International Speedway is a rut, Elliott will take it.

Elliott finished second in both races at MIS last year, first to Joey Logano in June and then Kyle Larson in August.

It was the same finish again Sunday in the FireKeepers Casino 400, as Larson won and Elliott was again second.

But Elliott still managed to get some consolation from his second-place showing. If nothing else, his finish at Michigan continued to bring him closer to what he seeks the most: his first career Cup win.

“Yeah, I hope so,” Elliott said in the post-race media conference. “I really felt like we ran better last year in the two races than what we ran today. I think we executed the race better today than what we did last year on pit road, with restarts, the way things played out.

“If you had to choose one or the other, I would rather overachieve with a car, finish a little better than what we deserved, than the other way around. So I was proud of that.

“Obviously, we would much rather win the race, but we gave ourselves a couple opportunities at the end, restarting up front, which was nice. Had a couple decent ones. Just didn’t work out in our favor.”

This was Elliott’s second top five and third top 10 in the last three races. That, after a terrible four-race run where he finished 24th (Richmond), 30th (Talladega), 29th (Kansas) and 38th (Charlotte).

“But it wasn’t easy,” Elliott said.

“We really struggled Friday and Saturday,” he said. “(I) felt like we overachieved today from what we thought we were going to have kind of coming into the race.

“Those are the kind of things that you have to have, whether you have a really fast car or a mediocre car. Our pit stops were just incredible on pit road, which is a huge help. I mean, I can’t express how nice that was to come in and gain two or three spots. It was unreal.

“(I) hope we can keep some of that moving forward. Gave ourselves a chance at the end. Really at the end of the day that’s all you can ask for.”

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NASCAR America: Navigating Sonoma means plenty of twists and turns

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You turn left and turn right, what’s the big deal, right?

Actually, wrong.

Sonoma Raceway is an extremely technical racetrack full of winding turns both to the left and right.

On Thursday’s NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman took to the iRacing Simulator to show what drivers might expect on the nearly two-mile roadcourse north of San Francisco this weekend.

NASCAR America: Which NASCAR driver is ready for zombie apocalypse?

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Now there’s something you don’t hear NASCAR drivers talk about every day: how to prepare — and potentially survive — a zombie apocalypse.

Our intrepid reporter, Rutledge Wood, threw a number of NASCAR drivers for a loop when he asked them that very question.

The reactions range from incredulousness to seriousness.  Among those Rut talked with included Martin Truex Jr., Elliott Sadler, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones and Kyle Larson.

And here’s a few surprises:

  • Brad Keselowski wants to buy a tank for the apocalypse, and supposedly Dale Earnhardt Jr. is waiting to take delivery on his own tank — both to kill zombies, of course!
  • Several drivers also talked about one of their former own who reportedly has already made big plans to take on any zombies that come across his path. As Wood said, that former driver’s name rhymes with Schmarl Schmedwards.

Check out the hysterical video — trust us, it WILL make you laugh — if for nothing else the outlandish responses from some of the drivers.

But it also makes one wonder: what if a zombie is among us and he’s disguised as a zombie? What then — and who might it be?

NASCAR America: John Hunter Nemechek looks to overcome small team, funding

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The good news for John Hunter Nemechek was with his win last weekend at Gateway, he and Nemco Motorports qualified for this season’s Camping World Truck Series playoffs.

But there is potential bad news, as well: because of having one of the smallest teams in the truck series and limited funding, Nemechek and his team are going to need more financial help, lest they potentially can’t afford to race for the championship in the playoffs.

Nemechek talked about that with NASCAR America on Thursday’s show. See the above video.

NASCAR America: Papis teaching next generation of NASCAR champions

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Even though much of his racing career was spent in open-wheel competition, it may surprise some to know Como, Italy native Max Papis has a combined 95 career starts in NASCAR across its three racing series: Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

Papis’ versatility has proven invaluable in mentoring a number of young drivers with the potential of some day becoming NASCAR champions, including current student William Byron.

Papis spent Thursday on NASCAR America talking about what makes a good young driver and how he enjoys his role as a mentor and teacher.