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Despite success, Elliott sees room for improvement

July 25, 2014, Kenny Bruce,

With Elliott's consistent success, many overlook the fact that he's still a rookie

SPEEDWAY, Ind. –- It's easy to forget that Chase Elliott is 18 years old and a rookie in NASCAR's Nationwide Series.

Especially when he keeps turning up in Victory Lane. And sits atop the points standings.

"I think you have to give all these kids credit for as well as they have run," Bill Elliott, Chase's father, said Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Regardless of where they're at, what they've done and the equipment they're in. 

"I think that says a lot for the kids coming up today, as far as their experience level. … That's the thing people tend to overlook. Yeah, he's got a lot of experience, but still he's a rookie, still (his) first time here. I think sometimes those (other) things are over-emphasized." 

The elder Elliott won 44 times at the Cup level, and was the series champion in 1988. He will be inducted, along with four others, into the NASCAR Hall of Fame next January.

Still, it's hard to ignore just how quickly, and how well the younger Elliott has adapted to the rigors of the series, one more stop before he eventually finds himself in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series

Elliott won for the first time earlier this year at Texas Motor Speedway. It was his sixth start in Nationwide competition. He won again just a week later, at Darlington Raceway, considered one of the most difficult stops on the schedule.

He won the series' most recent stop, at Chicagoland, which vaulted him to the top of the points standings. He leads JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith by seven points heading into Saturday's Lilly Diabetes 250 at IMS (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

In spite of his success, Elliott says he knows there's room for improvement.

"(In) all aspects, honestly," he said." I don't know that there's anywhere that's (been) perfected.

"There have definitely been race tracks that we've struggled at, or I've struggled at personally more than others, so I'd like to fix those and improve the ones we ran well at.

"Today was not as well as I would liked it to have gone. I have a lot to learn overnight and hopefully can … be a little better tomorrow." 

One of four drivers competing for the Nationwide Series' Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus this weekend, Elliott was 15th fastest in Friday's opening practice and 13th in the final session. 

"It's a very cool experience to be able to go out and make laps here at Indy," Elliott said. "I didn't really see a big difference in the race track; I'm not good enough to tell you what it does. The biggest thing I see is when it gets hotter, the speeds slow down and whatever your car is doing it's going to be that much worse as it heats up." 

Others contending for the Dash 4 Cash bonus this weekend are Trevor Bayne (Roush Fenway Racing), Ty Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) and Brian Scott (RCR). 

As for what his future may hold, Elliott prefers to let it take care of itself.

"The best thing I can do now," he said, "is if I can do my job and just try to achieve our goals each week, the future will figure itself out. Beyond that, it's not for me to worry about. It's not my call."

Not that he wouldn't jump at the chance to compete in Sprint Cup.

"It would be hard to turn down an opportunity like that," he said. "I think anyone would say that."


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