Elliott has joined the #31 Action Express Racing team, whose Cadillac DPi-V.R won Sunday’s qualifying race which set the grid for the Rolex 24, in the hands of Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr – despite starting from sixth on the grid.
With the Roar Before the 24 test taking place just a week before the race weekend, Elliott has been cramming in as much track time as possible.
“Been having a lot of fun with it, it’s been a big challenge,” Elliott told NBCSN. “I’m not sure I’m qualified to be on the points championship [leading] team! My teammates have been super patient trying to help me, I’ve been taking up their time in the car, but they’ve been awesome.
“I’m having to learn and learn fast, obviously with the race being next weekend, I’ve been trying to get up to speed. I feel like I’ve made some gains, I certainly don’t have it figured out, but these cars are different – I’ve never really driven a downforce car with the braking capability that these cars have. It’s been a big adjustment but [the] only way to learn is go do it.”
When asked if he believed this extra-curricular activity would help his road course skills in NASCAR – which will run seven non-oval events in 2021, making up 20% of the schedule – Elliott replied: “I hope so, I definitely don’t think it hurts anything.
“My first day in the car here felt really different, kinda foreign,” he added. “It’s been interesting though, as I’ve found those limits and pushed myself towards getting to the car’s limits, it starts to feel like a racecar. And when that happens, it’s kinda universal, no matter what you’re driving.
“I was super pleased [Saturday] night, I started making some gains. When that was happening, I felt like my limits were in different places. I was pushing to find them, so I’m having a lot of fun with that – it’s just getting used to a new world.”
The DPi teams will have almost five hours more practice over two days available before Saturday’s twice-around-the-clock Florida sportscar classic begins.