Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch may have dominated the day during Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but it was rookie Chase Elliott that turned many heads.
In only his third Nationwide Series race, at a track he had never raced on before, Elliott came home fifth.
While many of the other Rookie of the Year contenders struggled in Saturday’s race, Elliott was the exception to the rule and a factor throughout the day. Something he credited to unloading fast to start the weekend.
"I think the big difference was unloading with a fast racecar," he said. "That goes further than you think, especially for a rookie and a guy who had never been to a mile-and-a-half track like this."
Since the team unloaded fast, Elliott was able to work on his line around the track and focus on his role behind the wheel instead of chasing the handling of the car.
His day was not perfect, though. As he learned quite a few things from the Sprint Cup Series regulars he was racing around.
We'll definitely take that!! Just gotta keep chippin away at it and get better, ready to go short trackin next week!! Thanks to @NAPAKnowHow
"I’m really happy with the run we had, but at the same time there’s some things I learned what not to do," Elliott said. "Restarting outside the front row with Brad (Keselowski), he took me to school there and he taught me a lesson. You just have to put that in the memory bank.
"I feel like we were capable of running with those guys, I don’t know if we had it took to win the race," he said. "I feel our car was capable of being in the top 5 and we came home fifth, so not a terrible day."
With this finish, Elliott sits fifth in the series standings, two points behind fellow rookie Ty Dillon.
In addition to Keselowski’s post-race issue, NASCAR also announced Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet failed post-race inspection for being too low in the left front. Any penalties or fines will be announced Tuesday.