Chase Elliott on Sprint Cup debut: ‘This is a different ballgame … we need to get a little better’

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Chase Elliott finished 38th and 73 laps down in Sunday’s STP 500, but his Sprint Cup debut wasn’t a total loss.

After spending most of three hours getting bounced around Martinsville Speedway when his No. 25 Chevrolet wasn’t in the garage for lengthy repairs, the son of Hall of Fame Bill Elliott still learned important lessons about racing in NASCAR’s premier series.

“A lot of stuff,” he said. “There was a lot going on. This is a different ballgame. These guys are here for a reason. We need to get a little bit better, but I think it’s more of me getting used to the cars.”

The defending Xfinity Series champion also battled a power steering problem that was fixed along with a busted power steering pump and radiator that were damaged in an impact with Brett Moffitt and another wreck.

After returning about 150 laps into the race, the goal was mostly staying out of the way.

“I’ve had to do it a lot more than you think,” said Elliott, who is running part time in Cup while defening his Xfinity title with JR Motorsports. “That’s part of it. You don’t want to be in a position where you rough those guys up for no reason or get in their way. So you hope one day down the road that respect you gain will come back to you.”

The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who is moving into the No. 24 Chevrolet being vacated by Jeff Gordon next season, will attempt to race in four more Cup races — Richmond International Raceway (April 25), Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 24), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 26) and Darlington Raceway (Sept. 6).