CONCORD, N.C. -- Chase Elliott is more than halfway through his first full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
He already has 23 races under his belt and will compete in his 24th Cup race in the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS at Michigan International Speedway this weekend.
"It’s definitely a cool number to reach for sure," Elliott said. "It’s been fun driving the No. 24 car this year and getting used to that being my number. It's hard to believe the year has gone by so quick but there’s still a lot of racing left yet though."
Throughout the first 23 races of the season, communication between the Rookie of the Year contender and his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, has been continually improving.
"I’m just very, very lucky to have him on the box," Elliott said of Gustafson. "I don’t know that I could ask for a better guy to work with. I think he doesn’t get enough credit for what he does and the kind of work ethic he has to try to improve and to lead our race team."
Elliott also commends the other members of his No. 24 race team and the dedication and effort they have put into things from the start.
"I just think they have a good balance of knowing what our job is and knowing how to approach that," Elliott explained, "being serious and having your head where it needs to be to approach our jobs each weekend like we should. But they also have a good balance of having a good time."
Elliott's team helped him secure his career-best Cup finish at Michigan in June, as well as one of the highlights of Elliott's rookie season: earning the Daytona 500 pole award.
"Obviously you want to try to improve upon a pole, you’d much rather have wins than poles but we’ll definitely take it," the rookie said. "I think that’s a big achievement for the team and it really kind of shows the work that those guys put in over the offseason to try to improve and put a lot of work into our speedway program going into Daytona like that. That’s a big deal."
In a season marked by what Elliott refers to as "ups and downs," the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS team is ready to return to Michigan this weekend for the 24th race with the 20-year-old driver.
"I just want to try to improve from where we’ve been throughout the beginning of the season and try to get to Victory Lane," Elliott said. "That’s our ultimate goal every weekend. That’s everyone’s goal each weekend but we want to try to achieve that. I think we have a team that can do it. We just need to buckle down and get it done."