For most rookies, a 15th place finish at Daytona would be considered successful by all standards. They’d look back at what they learned, say that it was a great experience and a good solid finish moving forward.
However, those standards aren’t the same for Chase Elliott.
“I thought my performance at Daytona was pitiful, to be honest,” he commented last weekend. “I felt like I didn’t do a good job learning the draft as much as I needed to so hopefully I can step up for the guys there.”
Elliott has been breaking the molds of a rookie all season long as he currently leads the Nationwide Series points standings, with a pair of wins and seven top 10 finishes in the eight races this season.
Elliott’s talent behind the wheel looks to be right up there with the regulars of the series in Regan Smith and Trevor Bayne, but yet also with the standards of Sprint Cup Series drivers Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Only eight races into his first full season in a top three NASCAR division and people are wondering when he should be moved up to the Sprint Cup Series.
Reflecting back on Daytona, Elliott ran inside of the top 10 much of the race – even up front in the top five with Busch, Bayne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Though when it got to the back end of the race, Elliott dropped some spots and fell back.
Elliott comes into hte weekend looking for his third victory of the season, but as the points leader, there’s a bigger picture. Simply surviving and leaving Talladega with a solid finish will go along way this season in possibly becoming the first rookie champion.
“The biggest thing is to try and stay out of trouble,” Elliott said. “You just have to be in the right place at the right time, which is pretty much a big guess so hopefully we can guess right and just finish next week. I’ll be happy.”