Chase Elliott is spending part of his NASCAR offseason going to school.
The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion makes his Midget debut Saturday at Millbridge Speedway in the DiaEdge Carolina Midget Showdown. Friday night was practice night for the Carolina Midget Showdown, giving invited competitors track time on the tight 1/6-mile bullring in Salisbury, North Carolina.
WATCH THE CAROLINA MIDGET SHOWDOWN ON SPEED51.TV
For Elliott, it was valuable time spent soaking in information from the likes of Kyle Larson and Chase Briscoe, as well as turning valuable laps.
“We definitely learned a lot,” Elliott told Speed51. “I’m still learning and enjoying this new challenge. I don’t expect it to be easy, and it’s not by any means. These guys are really good. Practicing is one thing, and racing is another. I’m looking forward to continuing to try to learn.
For part of the two hour session, Elliott stepped aside and allowed Larson to turn laps behind the wheel of his car. From there, the two NASCAR teammates were able to relate with one another.
“A lot of times, as a race car driver, it’s hard to put what you need to do into words,” said Elliott. “We just talked through things. He’s been helping me, which I appreciate a lot. He’s been very gracious with his time, and obviously he’s very good at this stuff.”
“It was good to hop in his car and relate to him what he’s feeling,” said Larson. “I think he was able to pick up quite a bit of time.”
Throughout the process, Elliott has been leaning on Larson, as well as Chase Briscoe, for advice and pointers as he adapts to the Midget.
“I feel like [Larson]’s a great guy to lean on, and Chase Briscoe has been, too. I’m just trying to learn from them. They’ve done this a lot more than I have. I’m lucky to have a couple of good ones to talk to.”
As for Larson, he is excited to see Elliott dip his toes into the Midget pool.
“I’m just happy he’s giving it a try. I think it says a lot about him as a race car driver, searching for a challenge. I think he’s going to have a lot of fun with it, so hopefully the race fans appreciate it. I know all of the competitors have a lot of respect for him.”
While Elliott made significant gains over the course of the practice night, he’s still keeping meager expectations ahead of his first Midget race.
“I don’t know. Try not to finish last would be a good start. Try not to tear it up and go from there.”
At night’s end, Larson held the fastest lap of the evening, clocking in at 9.903 seconds. Larson has competed on numerous occasions in Outlaw Karts and Micro Sprints at Millbridge, and is looking forward to the track’s first-ever Midget event.
“It was fun to get some laps. I’ve only made about 15 laps in a Midget here before. This place is so much fun. I feel like smaller race tracks in Midgets are awesome. I think it will put on a great race tomorrow. Hopefully, everyone will tune in and get excited for it.”
While fans will not be permitted on the premises, those interested in watching the Carolina Midget Showdown can still do so by purchasing the Speed51.TV pay-per-view broadcast. The broadcast assists Millbridge Speedway in making this event possible without ticket revenue.
Click here to order your video ticket for the Carolina Midget Showdown today. The broadcast will begin at 2 p.m. ET Saturday with practice for the Midget competitors.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo