Chase Elliott gains valuable experience despite limited Sprint Cup schedule

DARLINGTON, SC - SEPTEMBER 05:  Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, takes part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on September 5, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

DARLINGTON, SC – SEPTEMBER 05: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, takes part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on September 5, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Chase Elliott is cramming a wealth of experience into five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts this season.

As he prepares to succeed Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet next year, Elliott has run two short tracks (Martinsville and Richmond), a 1.5-mile intermediate speedway with the standard 2015 rules package (Charlotte), and the first of NASCAR’s two events featuring a high-drag aerodynamic package (Indianapolis).

On Sunday at Darlington, where he won last year’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race in his maiden voyage at the Lady in Black, Elliott will get his first competitive experience with the low-downforce package first run at Kentucky in July.

As NASCAR continues to mull possible directions for Sprint Cup competition rules in 2016, Elliott considers himself fortunate to have sampled the full range of options.

“I’m excited about that,” Elliott said about the chance to race the low-downforce package, pending his ability to qualify for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET on NBC). “I think more than I have been about the other ones, because as you said we obviously don’t know what is going to happen, but if that is going to be the move for next year we have been fortunate to drive the normal package, the high downforce package and then this weekend hopefully we can get in the show and run the low downforce.

“If that’s the direction they go, I think that will be great. I think it’s very important to have a race under your belt with that package. I think the cars are going to drive a lot different than they did at the other races that I’ve run. From what I’ve seen watching Kentucky on TV, it seemed like the cars were handling different, and watching practice and stuff, guys went about the race track differently. I definitely think that is huge to have this weekend in that configuration, and hopefully (that will) help us moving forward.”

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