CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway looked to be shaping up as a good one for Chase Elliott.
Leading up to Sunday, the driver of the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 showed he had speed during qualifying, earning a second-place starting spot. However, an engine change meant he would start the race from the rear of the field.
Still, he put that speed on display once again when the green flag dropped, racing all the way into the top 10 before the end of Stage 1, picking up valuable extra points with an eighth-place finish.
But after he moved into the top five, an issue on pit road in Stage 2 changed Elliott’s fortunes.
The No. 9 Chevy was diagnosed with a broken axle, which forced the car to the garage for repairs. By the time Elliott was able to get back on the track, he was in 38th, more than 50 laps behind the leader.
He did all he could to regain positions down the stretch, moving to 36th before the checkered flag waved on a “frustrating” afternoon.
“Just disappointing for a day like that,” Elliott said. “We know better and we can do better than that."
The result left him eighth in the playoff standings. He is now 44 points behind the fourth-place driver with two races remaining to advance to the Championship 4.
As far as the driver is concerned, it makes his strategy for each race remaining in the Round of 8 simple.
“I’m going to go win it,” he said.
While earning points will still be important moving forward, Elliott said he’s viewing the rest of the round as a must-win situation.
“That is certainly the case now,” he said. “We do have to win.”
The next chance to do just that comes this Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, where Elliott has finished inside the top 10 in five of his seven races, averaging a finish of 8.0 in his Cup Series career at the track. He owns two top-five finishes at the 1.44-mile oval and has never finished worse than 13th, leading 44 laps along the way.
The race is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET this Sunday on NBCSN.