By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter & NASCAR Contributor
Rookie Chase Elliott overcame starting in the rear of the field to claim his first career top-five finish in Saturday’s Duck Commander 500.
From the drop of the green flag, Elliott wasted no time hanging out in the back as he blasted through the field and made it up to 28th when the competition caution flew on lap 28. Following the round of pitstops, Elliott picked up where he left off and cracked the top-20 on lap 46 and eventually cracked the top-15 as he passed Kasey Kahne on lap 65.
After briefly leading a lap during the first round of green flag pitstops, Elliott only got stronger and moved into the top-10 on lap 106. Following a caution for debris on lap 136, Elliott’s resumed his climb to the front and eventually cracked the top-five on lap 211.
He remained consistent as the runs wore on and when the caution flew for Greg Biffle’s crash on lap 289, he seized the opportunity and took two tires on the pitstop to move him into third place when the field lined up on lap 292 to restart.
A good restart moved him into second place but the yellow flag flew four laps later on lap 295. On the restart, while Kyle Busch took the lead from Martin Truex Jr, Dale Earnhardt Jr got the jump on Elliott who then soon fell into the clutches of Joey Logano and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson. He eventually finished in fifth place, ended a truly impressive night for the rookie.
“Yeah, it was a step in the right direction,” he said. “We’re definitely not satisfied running fifth. I feel like we have a group of guys that are capable of doing that. We’ll keep digging at it. We have a long way to go with a lot of racing to go in the season. We’ll keep working to get where we can roll with those guys.”
Image Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images