Chase Elliott relinquished the seat of the Action Express Racing No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi to Mike Conway after putting in his first-ever stint in the iconic Rolex 24 Hour event at Daytona. But it wasn’t all smiles and pats on the back as Elliott was — as he usually is — his own worst critic upon climbing out of the car.
When asked to rate his first stint, Elliott said, “Terrible. Terrible. Way off the pace. Just never could get in a good rhythm and find a good pace to run. I felt way better on whatever the last practice was the other day. Never could find that, so, need to go to work here and be better prepared and go faster in this next stint. I put these guys way, way, way, way too far behind.”
At the four hour mark, Elliott’s No. 31 team sits seventh in the overall race standings, but there is a long way to go. If the team is going to contend for the win though, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, who has become a road racing ace in the NASCAR world, is going to have to elevate his game.
In the early portion of Elliott’s stint, he made contact with a curb, which caused the team to call him to pit road early to assess if there was any major visible damage. Elliott feels the team will still need to take a look at the undercarriage of the car during the next full-course caution.
“Yeah, I hit the curb pretty hard early in that run and I was a little worried that I had damaged the underneath,” Elliott explained. “The next caution, we definitely need to get a look at that. Definitely can’t be doing stuff like that, bottom line.”
Where does Elliott feel he’s lacking the most speed around the course after his first turn behind the wheel?
“A little bit everywhere,” Elliott explained. “I felt like probably [turn] six and the bus stop were the two worst places for me on track, but a little bit everywhere. Like I said, I didn’t do a good job there at all finding a rhythm and getting going, so I need to step up for these guys on the next go around.”
Elliott has an all-star roster around him on a team that came into this event expecting to, and still does expect to, compete for the win. The Australian Conway is behind the wheel now. The team also has Brazilian drivers Felipe Nasr (who started the race for the No. 31 team) and Pipo Derani (scheduled to climb in following Conway’s stint).
For those who missed it, here is video of Elliott climbing into the Rolex 24 action for the first time in his racing career:
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) January 30, 2021