CONCORD, N.C. -- The official start of the NASCAR season is coming up fast with the DAYTONA 500, and Chase Elliott is ready to leave his mark at the 62nd “Great American Race” on Feb. 16.
While Elliott made history in the past at Daytona by becoming the youngest driver to win pole (2016), then sat at pole again in 2017, he has yet to finish in the top 10. For him, he doesn’t know what it would mean to win the DAYTONA 500, simply because it’s in a class of its own.
“… I feel like because I have never done it, so I really don’t know (what it would be like to win). That’s certainly the goal, that’s why everyone goes,” he said. “The list of winners of the 500 is pretty short; it’s a pretty rare thing to say you won it. It’s one of those events, that I feel is kind of a standalone event -- kind of by itself.
“You can’t let that race define your season by any means, but it would be great to win down there and start the year off really well.”
While starting pole at Daytona has been an area of dominance for Hendrick Motorsports teams over the past four years, a Hendrick Motorsports driver hasn’t won the race since Jimmie Johnson in 2013.
Even if Elliott wins his first Daytona race, he indicated the victorious feeling would be short-lived.
“I mean, you are never satisfied with where you are. If you haven’t won a race, you want to win a race. If you’ve won one, you want to win two and so on down the road. There’s always more that you want,” Elliott said.
As for how important the non-points Clash at DAYTONA will be on Sunday? That’s only a small blip on the radar, according to Elliott.
“(It’s) not (nearly) as important as Vegas, in my opinion,” he said. “I think that’s really where things get started. Daytona is its own animal, but I’m not going to be discouraged if we have some work to do on the speedway side if we can show up in Vegas and be good.”
Despite Daytona being such a grand stage so early in the season, Elliott said not doing well in the race won't derail the entire year. However, he stressed that wins tend to fall into place as long as there is no slacking.
“I think if you’re giving yourself that shot and putting yourself in a position to win every week, when you show up and you know you have a chance and everyone else knows you have a chance, I think that the rest of it will come," he said. "I think opportunities at the championship will come and opportunities to win a whole bunch of races will be there – that’s the goal.”