Chase Elliott is looking for victories anywhere he can find them right now.
Elliott, in his third full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and still searching for his first series win, got a brief reprieve on Friday from a difficult last few weeks.
Elliott will start second in Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway – his best start of the 2018 season and quite a change from the last four races in which he didn’t start better than 16th.
During the same four-race span, he hasn’t finished better than ninth and remains mired in 23rd in the series standings.
“A much better Friday than we have been having,” Elliott said after qualifying. “This has been a ridiculous stretch of races for me and (my team). We have just been struggling and kind of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
“We have had fast cars at times, just hasn’t seemed to work out. I typically don’t qualify very good, so I’m happy we could have a good qualifying effort and hopefully, our car in race trim is one spot better.
“You’ve got to take the small victories every now and then in life and especially in the racing world. We are just trying to take those right now.”
Last week was especially difficult for Elliott. He was involved in a wreck in the beginning of the Bristol race on Sunday but the race had to be continued on Monday due to bad weather. He returned to his No. 9 Chevrolet more than two dozen laps down on Monday and finished 29th.
Elliott has also been without crew chief Alan Gustafson, who was suspended for two races after NASCAR penalized the team for an issue with its rear window.
“Obviously he’s not here in person this weekend, so I’ve been having a lot of dialogue with him,” Elliott said. “Frankly I let him do his thing and he let’s me do mine and I feel like we have a really good working relationship together.
“He makes my job as easy as it could be and I try to make his job as easy as it could be as well. So, we try to be as straight-forward with one another.”
Gustafson will return to the track next weekend at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.