Chase Elliott to start first NASCAR Sprint Cup race on ‘weird weekend’

MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 28:  Chase Elliott, driver of the #25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 28, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, VA – MARCH 28: Chase Elliott, driver of the #25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 28, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, Va.—There’s nothing unusual about Chase Elliott being at a race track.

The reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion is a full-time racer at age 19.

But coming to the track to start a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday-now that’s another matter.

For Elliott, Sundays at the track have always meant watching his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, but that will change this Sunday when Chase Elliott makes his first start in NASCAR’s top division in the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway (1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1).

“This is definitely special,” Elliott said Friday night after qualifying 27th for his first Cup start. “For me, this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Going to the race track and watching my dad running these races for a number of years, it’s very odd to be showing up here and not be coming to watch him. So, this is definitely a weird-feeling weekend, more than anything else right now.

“It’s definitely exciting. But at the same time, you don’t want to forget you’re still racing. You’re still in a seat and you’re still trying to achieve the same thing. So, you don’t want to lose sight of what your goals are, no matter what you’re driving. I think you’re going to fight some of the same things you fight in these cars and anything else you drive on asphalt. Hopefully we can try to manage it and have a solid day.”

With five Sprint Cup races on his agenda in 2015, as he prepares to succeed four-time premier series champion Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet next year, Elliott hopes to learn as much as he can from his limited Cup schedule this season.

“Obviously, we want to go as fast as we can for as long as possible,” Elliott said. “We want to do the best we can and make the most of these races and try to just gain as much knowledge as possible.

“To have an opportunity to go run five races doesn’t seem like a lot, but at the end of the day it really is, if you can get in all five, and make those laps. You’ve got to take it one at a time, first off. You just want to put together 500 solid laps on Sunday and try to run all the laps and hope we can have a good day.”

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