Chase Elliott on Gordon's return: "It's going to be different for everybody"
Jeff Gordon's surprise return at Indianapolis this weekend will be a bit surreal for all his longtime fans, as well his successor in the No. 24.
Gordon will be filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88. In all of his 797 Sprint Cup starts, including 22 at the Brickyard, he has driving no number but the No. 24.
But that car now belongs to rookie Chase Elliott, who has done an admirable job behind the wheel all season.
"It's going to be different for everybody ... I'd be lying if I said it wasn't, "he explained when asked by Motorsport.com about Gordon's surprise return.
"I think it's going to be an exciting weekend, (but) the most important thing is Dale's situation and where he's at with his health and getting him back to the track as soon as possible.
Chase then added, "But Jeff is certainly a great guy to get to come in and fill in for a couple races. Hopefully it's no more than this week and next week for that matter. I think he'll do a really good job, picking right up where he left off.
"It'll definitely be different, but I'm excited."
The 20-year-old may be a Sprint Cup rookie, but this is far from his first Brickyard experience. He competed at the iconic race track as an Xfinity driver in both 2014 and 2015. And in fact, one of his few Cup starts last year came at IMS. Piloting the No. 25 for Hendrick Motorsports, he finished 18th.
But you can go even farther back than that. In 2002, a then six-year-old Chase was present for his father's Brickyard 400 triumph.
"This is definitely a special place for me. This is a race track that will always be special in my mind. This was one of my dad's biggest wins and one of the very few I was alive for. That being said, I don't remember a whole lot but it's cool to look back and be in some of the pictures. It makes it memorable for me.
Outside of an innate ability to wheel a race car, the rising star also has a plethora of information at his disposal. One of the perks of driving for Rick Hendrick and he puts them all to use as he continues to improve his on-track prowess.
"They do a really good job of giving me what I need and me being able to access the information easily. We have a database that I can log onto and check out any time. So they do a really good job of keeping up, staying ahead."
Chase enters Indianapolis 11th in the championship standings, having scored six top fives and eleven top tens in 19 races this season. He is not yet locked in, but is still 38 points to the good despite four straight races with finishes of 21st or worse.
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