Elliott did so five times in 2015 as he prepared for his rookie Sprint Cup Series season that would see him take over the famed No. 24 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports. But with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. sidelined with a concussion, Gordon has been back in the driver’s seat and is once again helping improve the Hendrick program.
“I obviously never would have thought it would have worked out like this,” Elliott said at Watkins Glen International. “I ran a few races with him last year and it was pretty neat. He’s been a big help in recognizing where we are week-to-week, trying to help us improve. He has a lot of great insight.
“He’s very aware of what’s going on and aware of our competitors and where he feels like we’re getting beat in certain aspects, and he does a really good job of explaining that and breaking it down and trying to explain that to our engineers and the people at Hendrick.”
Elliott praised Gordon’s character for wanting to come back and help Hendrick Motorsports when he “could be off doing a lot of other things.” Instead, Gordon immediately said he would be around for as long as he was needed.
There’s no better time for Elliott to lean on Gordon.
It was just last weekend at Pocono when Elliott, who finished 33rd, said he needed to re-evaluate how he’s been approaching races. After starting the year by winning the pole for the Daytona 500 and earning 11 top-10 finishes in the first 15 races, his team has stumbled of late.
Sitting 13th in points, Elliott has not had a top-10 finish since June at Michigan. He’s also crashed in four of the last six races. The good news is that Elliott currently holds a spot on the Chase grid. Also, he can get some extra help from Gordon, who is a four-time winner at Watkins Glen where Elliott will compete for the first time on Sunday in a Cup car.
“I think he’s been a good teammate, leading up to this year and certainly I think he still is,” Elliott said. “I’ve enjoyed racing with him and I’m sure he’ll be one of the ones to beat. He’s pretty good here.”