CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday night's NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway saw Chase Elliott finish fifth. 

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The top-five result was the 28-year-old driver's first of the 2024 season and his best finish through seven races. Starting from the second position (his best starting spot on the season), Elliott led the opening five laps and eventually finished the opening stage in seventh. He spent much of the second stage in the top 10, but a chaotic restart with 43 laps left in stage two placed him in 13th at the end of the segment. In the final stage, crew chief Alan Gustafson had his driver pit on the front side of the green-flag pit cycle. This maneuver helped his driver gain several spots over the final stage. 

Elliott was running seventh when the caution came out to set up NASCAR Overtime. Strong work in the pits helped the No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 pick up a spot ahead of the restart. Lining up sixth, Elliott was able to pass teammate William Byron for fifth in the two-lap sprint to the finish.

"I probably made the most of it there at the end," Elliott said of his Richmond run. "I honestly never felt like our UniFirst Chevy was all that bad. The caution came out in the middle of that one-stop, two-stop strategy and it set us back a little bit (in stage two). 

"We found a little pace there those last two runs and we were able to pass a couple of cars under green. We got ourselves in a position to have a good pit stop at the end. I stopped a little short in my box. We could have been one spot better there off of pit road, but nonetheless, had a good restart and gave ourselves a top five. It was a solid night. Looking forward to getting to Martinsville (Speedway) and trying to be a little better."

The fifth-place finish gives Elliott two top-10s in his last three races of the season – he finished eighth at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 17. The team has run better than some of its other recent finishes would indicate – 19th at Phoenix Raceway (running top 10 before being caught on the wrong side of caution during a green-flag pit cycle) and 16th at Circuit of The Americas (running top 10 before a penalty for cutting the course). One of the keys to the strong runs of late has been Elliott's qualifying efforts. He has reached the final round of qualifying in the past four races and his second-place starting spot at Richmond was his best since starting second at Martinsville in October of 2022.

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The Dawsonville, Georgia, native's top-10 efforts at Richmond and Bristol give him eight top-10s in his last 10 short-track starts (Bristol, Richmond and Martinsville Speedway). In 47 starts on tracks less than 1 mile, Elliott has 15 top-five finishes, 25 top-10s, 1,584 laps led and one win. The victory came at Martinsville, the next stop on the schedule. 

Elliott's victory at Martinsville in November of 2020 propelled him into the Championship 4. He won the following week at Phoenix to become the Cup Series champion in 2020. In 17 starts at the 0.526-mile track over nine seasons, Elliott also has five top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. It is also the only track where he has led over 1,000 laps – 1,040 to be exact – in his Cup Series career. Elliott's Cup Series debut also came at Martinsville in 2015.

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This weekend will mark the 40th anniversary celebration of Hendrick Motorsports' first win in 1984, which came at Martinsville. The Rick Hendrick-owned organization's 28 wins at the paperclip-shaped track are the most by one team at any track on the circuit. 

"I'm proud to have contributed in a very small way in comparison to guys like Jimmie (Johnson) and Jeff (Gordon, who each won nine times at Martinsville)," Elliott said. "I'm proud to have been a part of this family for a long time. It has been a fun ride thus far. I'm proud to have been a small piece of it, but a piece of it nonetheless."