MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Earlier in the weekend, Chase Elliott said he has yet to figure out the Martinsville Speedway puzzle.
But that was before his victory in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event and a third-place finish in Sunday’s Monster Energy Cup Series race at the 0.53-mile Virginia track.
After starting on the front row, Elliott stayed toward the front all day, leading 20 laps en route to the podium result.
“I think it helped a little bit,” Elliott said of running the Truck race the day before. “We’ve got a little work to do, but it was much improved.”
Elliott just hopes those improvements for he and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team weren’t a one-race deal.
“I was really proud of our improvements this weekend,” Elliott said. “I hope that it wasn’t just a fluke deal and we didn’t just get lucky today and run good. I really hope that we’ve found something or I have found something at this track that will lend some more consistent finishes that are further towards the front.”
gallery: Final running order from STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway
Although Elliott looked like a veteran on the race track by staying out of trouble for the most part, it felt like anything but a good day in the cockpit at the start.
“We started the race, and for whatever reason my car would not turn at all for the first three or four laps, and I about knocked whoever was on the outside of me back to Charlotte a couple times I felt like on accident,” Elliott said. “I thought we were going to drop like a rock. Fortunately, I don’t know if it was just being on the splitter or whatever it was, but actually our car kind of came to life and started turning pretty good, and from there it drove pretty similar throughout the entire day.”
With two all-important stage wins so far this year, including one in Sunday’s race, Elliott is already looking forward to the fall race at Martinsville, a pivotal race in the playoffs.
“We hopefully have a good direction and we can build on this for the fall,” Elliott said. “This was an important race and we’d love to have a good run then.”
gallery: Best photos from the action-packed STP 500 at Martinsville