CONCORD, N.C. -- Alan Gustafson will return to his hometown track this weekend to help defend Chase Elliott’s current title at the DAYTONA Road Course.
The crew chief of the No. 9 team secured his first hometown win last August when he guided Elliott to victory lane at the road course. While Elliott makes navigating the road course look easy, Gustafson said there is a lot of intensity that comes with the different style of racing.
“It’s still a lot of pressure and certainly concerning issues with the track in trying to get ahold of it and getting your car perfect there,” Gustafson said. “I don’t think it’s changed much. Before we went there, we didn’t know what to expect and after we raced here, we realized it’s a pretty tough track to get ahold of. We’ll be in the same situation on Sunday.”
Even though Gustafson isn’t allowing himself to get too comfortable with the DAYTONA Road Course, he knows Elliott has a unique talent when it comes to turning left and right. The duo have won four road-course races in a row and was second in the Clash, which took place on the DAYTONA Road Course for the first time this year.
Since road-course racing is becoming a staple on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit, Gustafson knows other teams have been working hard to catch up to Elliott and his talent.
“I certainly feel like we’re positioned well when we go to road courses, but it’s not that much different than any other track,” Gustafson said. “There are really good road racers and really good teams. You could certainly see that the other night (at the Clash). I fully expect to have our hands full as we do every time we go race.
“… I think everyone is going to work hard to get better and we have to work as equally as hard.”
Luckily for Gustafson, Elliott and the No. 9 team, they will have plenty of chances to run on road courses this season. NASCAR added several new tracks to the schedule this year, including three road courses. In total, the Cup Series will run on seven road courses this year.
“I’m a huge fan of the road courses; they’re a lot of fun and, ultimately, bring unique challenges,” Gustafson said. “I like the circuits we run and the new additions are great. I’m really excited to go to COTA (Circuit of the Americas). I’d say that’s probably at the top of my list just because I’ve never been there and I’ve heard really good things about the facility and the track, in general. I’m excited to get there and be able to put our cars on that track. I think that’ll be a lot of fun.”
Gustafson will try to lead Elliott to his second win at the DAYTONA Road Course on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. on FOX.