CONCORD, N.C. – For the fourth consecutive year to begin his NASCAR Cup Series career, Chase Elliott is officially part of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
The driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 clinched his position this season on the strength of wins at Talladega Superspeedway and Watkins Glen International, and he’ll look to pick up some momentum and more trips to Victory Lane as the playoffs get underway.
“All it takes is a little bit of momentum and things going in the right direction to make a big deal and to make a lot of noise,” he said. “Last year I felt like we weren’t doing great when the playoffs started, but we were able to get a couple of wins in that second round. Like I said, it only takes hitting on that one little thing to improve your performance.”
Elliott earned a top-10 finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Sunday, capping the regular season on a stretch of four top-10s in five races, including a win.
Working in his favor is that the Cup Series has already raced at eight of the 10 tracks in the playoffs this season, and Elliott leads all drivers in points scored at those venues.
His 324 total race points scored – and his 87 stage points – are the most in the series at those eight tracks this year. Those numbers include two stage wins and one race win.
But the driver said he isn’t looking forward to any tracks in particular as the playoffs get underway. His most anticipated race, he said, is always “the next one.”
“I think you have to have the ability to win all of them, or the majority of them, to have a shot at Homestead,” he said. “We just need to have that mindset going in. This first round is going to be tough. Michigan and Charlotte haven’t been our best two racetracks, so it’s important for us to not overlook it and put some emphasis on the first round and not just think we’re going to breeze right through.”
In both of the past two seasons, Elliott has advanced to the Round of 8 but fell just short of making the Championship 4 with one race for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
If he wants to make it all the way this year, he knows he’ll have to start strong.
“Just hopefully having a nice, smooth, uneventful race at Las Vegas would be good,” he said. “These past couple of weeks have been wild with just a lot of stuff happening. So, we just need to get out there and I have confidence that we can have good cars. We’ve just got to get going in find a little consistency and just get things started off, uneventfully, would be great.”
Elliott said the team will look to keep the 10-race stretch from being too “pressure-packed” by putting together consistent runs each and every week.
And after finding Victory Lane twice this year – including in dominant fashion at Watkins Glen – he is confident in what the No. 9 team will be able to do as the elimination format gets underway.
“When we are at our best, we can run with anybody. I truly believe that. We just have to be our best more often,” he said.
“It’s going to be a fun 10 weeks.”