MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Chase Elliott’s career in NASCAR’s premier series will begin with Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
The 2014 Xfinity Series champion qualified 27th in his Sprint Cup debut Friday, capping a long day in which rain threatened to wash out the son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott’s chances of his No. 25 Chevrolet making the field.
“It’s really exciting,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. “I don’t know how I feel about being excited about 27th, but at the same time, I’m excited to be in my first Cup race.
“The pressure I felt was what I put on myself to want to do well. I wanted to get in the race more than anyone else. … That was main goal today. Certainly, there’s a lot of pressure off, and now we can focus on being ready for race Sunday afternoon.”
The 500-lap race will mark the first of five Cup races this season for Chase Elliott, who will move onto NASCAR’s premier circuit next season in the No. 24 Chevy being vacated by retiring Jeff Gordon.
After Martinsville, Elliott will be entered in the Cup races at Richmond International Raceway (April 25), Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 24), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 26) and Darlington Raceway (Sept. 6).
“Obviously, we want to do best we can, make the most of these races and gain as much knowledge as possible,” he said. “To have the opportunity to run five races doesn’t seem a lot, but it really is if you can get in all five and make those laps. We just want to put together 500 solid laps Sunday, run all the laps and hopefully have a good day.”
Elliott won the Xfinity title as a rookie, notching three victories, two pole positions and 26 top-10 finishes in 33 starts.
For more on his journey to NASCAR’s big leagues, you can read Dustin Long’s story about Elliott at NBC’s SportsWorld site here.