Dale Jr: Martinsville a Perfect Track for Chase Elliott’s Debutby Kyle Pokrefky March 25, 2015 0 comments
Photo credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images
FONTANA, Calif. — If there is any track on the Sprint Cup calendar that is a perfect venue for Chase Elliott to make his series debut, it’d have to be Martinsville Speedway, says Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Speaking at Auto Club Speedway in a media availability following a victory in Saturday’s Drive4Clots.com 300 by the driver of his No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick; Earnhardt Jr. was asked on his thoughts of Elliott, his championship-winning driver from last season, making his Cup debut this week.
One thing’s for sure, Earnhardt Jr. says, there is going to be a lot more hoopla surrounding Elliott’s debut this weekend than what surrounded his father, Bill Elliott, during his first Sprint Cup weekend in 1976.
“I’ve read a lot of books about the history of the sport and his first race is going to be quite a big spectacle compared to Bill’s first attempt,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Bill came to several races before anybody took real notice driving a Mercury he bought from Penske.”
As for what makes Martinsville the ideal track for the younger Elliott’s Cup debut, his XFINITY Series team owner says that the half-mile paper clip plays right into Elliott’s wheelhouse as the 19-year-old out of Dawsonville, Ga. is accustomed to running on short tracks such as Martinsville.
Whether it be in the XFINITY Series, Camping World Truck Series, ARCA Racing Series, K&N Pro Series, or in his own Chase Elliott Motorsports late models, Elliott has plenty of experience on short tracks and should feel comfortable at Martinsville behind the wheel of a Cup car.
“I think that it’s a good race track – Martinsville is a short track and Chase is very experienced at racing on short tracks with all of his late model cars and stuff,” Earnhardt Jr. stated. “The style of racing is really going to be familiar to him and that should make him more comfortable.
“Also, I love going to Martinsville and it’s one of the funnest races. But, when it comes to the exposure of the event, maybe it’s a nicer, less explosive – it’s different than trying out for the 600 and making that your first event or the Daytona 500 or Indianapolis or something like that. This’ll be an event that I think he can walk in and feel comfortable in; the environment will be comfortable to him so he’s not going to be overwhelmed.”
As for the expectations of Elliott for his debut, Earnhardt Jr. believes that the important thing for the 2016 driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is to gain experience and to have fun, not to aim for a specific result.
“Nobody expects anything out of him in his first race, just [to] get in there and run laps, have some fun [and] get the experience,” Earnhardt Jr. remarked. “I think he’s going to do great so I don’t think he has anything to worry about.”
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky