Lost in the revelry that was Jimmie Johnson’s race-winning, title-clinching run in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway two Sundays ago was the fact that Chase Elliott clinched Rookie of the Year honors in the series as well.
Now Elliott has two reasons to celebrate. Monday also was his 21st birthday, reminding the racing world of just how young the talented driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports really is.
Elliott did not win a race in his inaugural Cup season, but he did register 10 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes while also claimed two poles in 36 starts. He made the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs and finished 10th in the points. Elliott was one of two rookies who made the Chase, with Chris Buescher being the other by virtue of his rain-shortened win at Pocono in the regular season. The next highest-finishing rookie in points behind Elliott was Ryan Blaney, who was 20th.
"I’m proud of our season for sure," Elliott said after wrapping up his inaugural Cup campaign at Homestead. "I’m definitely proud to earn the Rookie of the Year honors. It’s been a long season, a lot of ups and downs, but we’re happy to be here and definitely enjoyed racing against those guys for the Rookie of the Year this season. I felt like it was a fun group, and we’re excited to get on to Season Two."
Elliott added that there is one more aspect to his recently concluded season that he’s pumped about.
"The good news is I don’t have to go to any more rookie meetings, which is nice," he said.
As his mother, Cathy Elliott, pointed out in the tweet below, he’s not a baby any more.