CONCORD, N.C. -- Alan Gustafson knows the No. 9 team has what it takes to be successful in the Round of 8. Chase Elliott’s crew chief revealed the team is ready to take on the round head-on.
Luckily for Elliott and Gustafson, the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will start from the pole position this Sunday at Kansas after Elliott won at the Charlotte roval last week.
“It’s the one everyone wants (and) we’ve got it,” Gustafson said of starting first. “How it impacts the race is yet to be determined and you’ll just have to see how it goes. Ultimately, we are going to have to have a good car and execute a race. If you are going to pick your starting spot, that’s the one you are going to pick. We are happy to have it.”
In nine starts at Kansas, Elliott’s stats are impressive. The 24-year-old driver has the third-best average finish (11.6) at the track among drivers with at least two starts. Overall, he’s secured one win, four top-five finishes and five top-10s. Much of that has to do with Elliott and Gustafson's strategy at the track.
“It’s been good probably for the last three years, I would say,” Gustafson said. “You typically want to run the bottom to start and run the bottom well, especially in turns one and two. Then guys will typically migrate up the track as tires build some age on them. That’s what makes it a lot of fun; you can search around and find some time and if your car is good, you can run either lane and make some time and pass guys.”
While Elliott has an advantage heading into Sunday’s race with his starting position and success at the track, Gustafson knows anything can happen with playoff racing. He said all pitting strategies are on the table and the team still needs to be prepared to race hard at Texas, then Martinsville in the following weeks.
“I think we are ready to go and we are working hard to take the best NAPA Chevy to the track that we can and put ourselves in the best position possible,” Gustafson said. “This is the time of year, I love it. Put it all on the line. You’re going to have to win or be right at the front to advance and that’s what we are going to focus on doing and I think we are capable. We just have to put our best foot forward and go get it.”
Tune in to watch Elliott and the No. 9 team take on the first race in the Round of 8 on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET.