Coming off two Sprint Cup starts this season, Chase Elliott won’t waste any time before getting behind the wheel again. The defending Xfinity Series champion is set to make a start in the Sprint Showdown on Friday, May 15, before the Sprint All-Star Race the next day.
Both races are just exhibition events, with the winner of both Sprint Showdown races getting a chance to advance to the All-Star Race. An announcement was sent out by Gray Caldwell of Hendrick Motorsports on Elliott’s plans.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to run the Showdown,” Elliott said in the release. “It allows me to gain more experience with my NAPA Auto Parts team before we race again at Charlotte a week later.”
As Elliott noted, his third Sprint Cup points race will be the following Sunday, May 24, in the Coca Cola 600. Given the fact that he’ll be racing in the longest event of the season in terms of distance, being a part of the 20-lap preliminary event would be a huge coo for the fifth Hendrick Motorsports driver.
If the 19-year-old driver does somehow win his event on Friday night, he’d automatically earn entry into the All-Star Race. With the Xfinity race being held at Iowa on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET, he’d have to fly over to Charlotte immediately after the checkered flag waves.
“I’m just really proud of where Chase is at right now,” Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson said. “When I look at the three races I ran before my first full season, I never finished on the lead lap, and he finished in the top 15 or right around there at Richmond. So, he’s doing a great job. And the fact that he can come and get some laps during the All-Star weekend and then take that into the 600 — run the longest race we have on the schedule — there’s nothing more a young driver could ask for. So, it’s going to be a great learning experience for him.”
During his first race of the season at Bristol, Elliott sustained early damage and returned to the track to finish 38th. His second start saw him complete all 400 laps at Richmond and earn a 16th-place result. Now he ventures to Charlotte, a track where he collected a top-10 finish last year at the Xfinity level.
All of this preparation for Elliott in the No. 25 machine is to get him ready to take over the No. 24 seat next year. With so much history in the car thanks to Jeff Gordon’s four championships and countless other accomplishments, Elliott has a long road ahead before he can match his predecessor.
But with another bright spotlight on him in Charlotte, the home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Elliott has a chance to make a statement of his own against the big boys.
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