Even Chase Elliott somewhat surprised at 3rd place Martinsville finish
Chase Elliott may have come up a bit short in Sunday’s STP 500, but it was still a strong weekend for him at Martinsville Speedway.
Elliott won Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race at NASCAR’s oldest (70 years) and shortest (.526-mile) racetrack. He came back to finish third in Sunday’s main event on the NASCAR Cup circuit.
“I think (the NCWTS win) helped a little bit,” Elliott said after Sunday’s race. “We’ve got a little work to do, but it was much improved. We hopefully have a good direction and we can build on this for the fall. This was an important race and we’d love to have a good run then.”
Elliott led twice for 20 laps Sunday, as well as winning Stage 2 of the 500-lap event. It was his best finish in four career Cup starts there, bettering his previous top showing of 12th last fall.
It was also a bit of a surprising finish, Elliott admitted.
“I was really proud of our improvements this weekend,” he said. “I hope that it wasn’t just a fluke deal and we didn’t just get lucky today and run good. I really hope that we’ve found something or I have found something at this track that will lend some more consistent finishes that are further towards the front.”
“For me, at this place I was way much improved than I’ve ever been here in the past, which I thought was great. ... This is such an important race, especially when you come back here in the fall (for the playoffs). It’s not a place that you can just get by with running bad in life, expect to just go on in the playoffs if you’re a part of it.”
Elliott overcame early issues in Sunday’s race in Stage 1 to rally and win Stage 2 on that session’s final lap.
“For whatever reason, my car would not turn at all for the first three or four laps,” Elliott said. “I about knocked whoever was on the outside of me back to Charlotte a couple times, I felt, like on accident, and I thought we were going to drop like a rock.
“I don’t know if it was just being on the splitter or whatever it was, but actually our car kind of came to life and started turning pretty good. And from there it drove pretty similar throughout the entire day.
“I hope it’s a consistent trend, that we can continue to run decent here. Obviously, we’d love to kind of take that next step and try to contend for a win. But from where I’ve been here in the past, night and day, so I was really happy and proud of that.”