• 72°

NASCAR: Elliott making Cup debut

The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Of all the places Hendrick Motorsports could have picked for Chase Elliott’s first Sprint Cup Series race, the organization landed on historic Martinsville Speedway.

The Virginia race track has hosted so much Hendrick success — the organization has 22 Cup wins at Martinsville — but is also a place of tremendous tragedy: In 2004, a Hendrick plane crashed en route to the track, killing all 10 on board.

The history of Martinsville and the place it holds in Hendrick lore is not lost on Elliott, who will turn his first real laps in a Cup car Friday. The 19-year-old will have to qualify on speed to make Sunday’s race.

“The Hendrick history at Martinsville, that’s something that will never be forgotten,” Elliott said. “That’s such a special place for HMS, they’ve had a lot of success there, and it’s a place that everyone always wants to step up and do well at, and they certainly have done that as an organization, no matter who is driving.”

Elliott will drive the No. 25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet for Hendrick. It’s the first of five races he has scheduled this season as he prepares to transition from reigning Xfinity Series champion to the replacement driver for four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon. Elliott in January was picked to replace Gordon in the No. 24 Chevrolet when Gordon retires at the end of this season.

The Hendrick affinity for Martinsville aside, on paper the track might seem a curious choice for Elliott’s first Cup event.

He has very little experience at the track — just two Truck Series races in 2013 — and the odd paper-clip layout with its long straightaways and flat, narrow turns makes it a challenge for drivers.

Elliott isn’t sure how his schedule was set by the Hendrick braintrust, but isn’t complaining. He always enjoyed watching races at Martinsville, and at just .526 of a mile, the length suits him.

“I kind of look at it as it’s just a short track,” said Elliott, who prepared for NASCAR racing short tracks across the Southeast.

“I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of short-track racing over the last several years, and that place definitely has its differences from a lot of short tracks I raced in Florida and Georgia and North Carolina and Alabama. But at the same time, you are still short-track racing … you don’t want to reinvent the wheel. You still want to race with the same goals, and you are still going to be looking for the same things. The key is going to be to try to marry the excitement of the weekend and your first Cup attempt with the fact that you are still going short-track racing. That’s going to be important.”

Comments

Education

RSS teachers adapting classrooms to the pandemic

Education

Shoutouts

Coronavirus

County launches paramedic program for those recovering COVID-19

Education

Cooper directs $95.6 million for students affected by COVID-19

Education

RCCC named school on the rise

Local

Conversations get started on planning for diversity mural, street painting

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools welcomes new teachers

Education

Study highlights need to improve food environments around NC’s HBCUs

Coronavirus

County reports new COVID-19 death outside of nursing home

Crime

Man robbed at gunpoint at South Main Street gas station

Business

Embracing the outdoors: downtown restaurants, coffee shops work to expand outdoor seating

Local

Spencer man killed after being knocked into ditch by vehicle on Old Concord Road

Local

Activists talk tear gas ban, renaming police officers, Confederate streets during mock council meeting

Local

Woman found dead in converted swimming pool

Crime

Pair face felony charges for utility trailer theft

News

NC lawmakers want Cooper to seek Trump’s extended benefits

Education

Catawba alumnus Jonathan Barbee throws hat in school board race

Crime

Blotter: August 12

Education

RSS to pay out $240,000 share of CARES Act funds to private schools

Local

Commissioners approve new bonuses to help recruit environmental health specialists

Coronavirus

30 people now positive at Autumn Care nursing home

Local

Greensboro man receives third-degree burns, fire trucks damaged during interstate collision

News

Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Business

Local produce packing company announces recall of citrus, potatoes