Chase Elliott continues forward progress

Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service Monday, Apr 18 1169
Eight weeks into the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Chase Elliott already has two top-five finishes, and they've come in his last two races.

Last week at Texas, he ran fifth, and on Sunday at Bristol, the 20-year-old Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate improved one spot to a career-best fourth, despite losing two laps when he had to make an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 178 because of a loose wheel.

Elliott ran as high as second before losing one position each on the final two restarts.

"We just had a really fast car," said Elliott, who gained two spots to 12th in the series standings. "I think that was the biggest thing. (My) guys brought a good car this weekend. We started a little slow, didn't qualify as well as we'd like to on Friday (19th), but I thought we hit on a couple things (Saturday) in final practice that fortunately carried over to today.

"And we were able to kind of work our way up through there. Hate to have a loose wheel, but guys did a good job overcoming that, having a fast pit under green only losing two laps. That was big to keep us in contention there and try to get back on the lead lap. Definitely a long afternoon, but had a fast car, and that was the biggest thing that kept us alive.