Chase Elliott made his debut at the finicky Bowman Gray Stadium when the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East did last summer, a battery problem early on helping him sputter his way through a difficult learning curve on the circuit's trickiest circuit. This time around – at least so far – nothing's hindering Elliott's game.
Elliott swept the pair of practices for the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 on Saturday afternoon, posting the fastest times in each session. Better yet, Elliott enjoyed a late draw for qualifying at 6:15 p.m. and will be the 18th of 22 cars to take time.
“It's going to be so hard (in qualifying),” the 16-year-old son of Bill Elliott said. “And we fought this last year, too, when you put on tires it's so slick... You just do the best with what you've got and really try to hit your marks.”
Elliott's fastest lap of the day was 14.359 seconds (62.678 mph) on the flat quarter-mile, a speed he posted on a mock qualifying run to close out final practice. He improved nearly two-tenths of a second over his top time from the first 45-minute session.
“I felt like it was pretty good. It can probably be a little bit better,” Elliott said. “As the night comes, as race time comes, these guys are all just going to get better. There's a lot of really talented drivers, crew chiefs and crew members out here that really know what they're doing and know what to expect.”
Sergio Pena followed Elliott on the speed chart, and Corey LaJoie, Carlos Iaconelli and Brandon Gdovic rounded out the Top-5 times.
It was a rough afternoon for Travis Pastrana, who was just 16th-fastest in final practice after going to a backup car following the first practice. Pastrana spun twice in Turn 3 in the first session, smacking the barrier to cause left front suspension damage.
“We didn't hit too hard, but instead of worrying about whether we knocked something a little loose or what not,” Pastrana said, “the guys just said, 'You know what, let's just (go to the backup).'”