Chase Elliott didn’t win a race but he still conclude up his rookie season in the Sprint Cup Series with several memorable accomplishments.
Following Sunday night’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR officially named Elliott the series’ rookie of the year.
Elliott, the 20-year-old son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, finished 10th in the series standings and qualified for the championship Chase.
He ended the year with two poles and 10 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 36 starts, including a pair of runner-up finishes, both at Michigan International Speedway.
Elliott and eventual champion Jimmie Johnson were the only Hendrick Motorsports drivers to qualify for the Chase this season.
“I’m proud of our season, for sure. I’m definitely proud to earn the rookie of the year honors,” Elliott said. “It’s been a long season, a lot of ups and downs, but we’re happy to be here and definitely enjoyed racing against those guys for the rookie of the year this season.
“It felt like it was a fun group, and we’re excited to get on to season two.”
Elliott’s top competition for the honor this year came from Chris Buescher, who won a race and also qualified for the Chase, and Ryan Blaney. Buescher finished 16th in the series standings while Blaney ended up 20th.
Elliott said gaining experience in the Cup series involves much more than simply pulling the yellow rookie stripe off the rear of his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
“I think you learn things as you go, but I can’t see the back bumper, so I don’t know what’s there or not,” he said. “I think you just kind of learn from experiences and things you encounter along the way, not so much whether it’s your first year or first race or whatever it is.
“I think it’s more of an experience-based kind of feel, whether you have that comfort moving forward.”