CONCORD, N.C. – With the NASCAR Cup Series making its return to Texas Motor Speedway for the start of the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8, No. 9 crew chief Alan Gustafson is confident that Chase Elliott’s focus is at an all-time high.
Elliott, who punched his ticket to the next round of the playoffs last Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, is ready to make the most of the fresh round. He currently sits in sixth place of the playoff standings just two points behind the fourth-place driver.
“Chase’s personality is very mellow and positive,” Gustafson said. “He’s so even keeled and not always looking at what’s best for Chase; he’s looking out for the people around him. He’s just a nice guy. … When he does get backed into the corner, that shifts and you see an uptick in, I don’t want to say his performance because he is good every day of the week, but just that intensity.”
Elliott is set to make his 11th start at Texas this Sunday. He’s tallied two top-five finishes, five top-10s and has led 44 laps in his previous 10 Cup races at the track. The 25-year-old driver also garnered a third-place finish in the All-Star Race in June, his best result on the new configuration of the 1.5-mile track. While Elliott had a solid run in Texas earlier this season, Gustafson knows that anything can happen in a playoff race.
“Texas is just a little bit of a wild card just because anybody really could be competitive given track position,” Gustafson said. “That makes it a little less about the performance of the car and more about the strategy and how you execute. We just have to focus on what we can do and if we do our best, I always feel like regardless of the situation and where we are at, if we do our best and the No. 9 team operates at 100%, then we are going to be in good shape and that is just what we have to focus on doing.”
Gustafson will look to make the right calls and put Elliott in the best position to lock himself into the Championship 4 this Sunday with a win at Texas. Tune in this Sunday, Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC to see Elliott, Gustafson, and the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports teams take on the first race of the Round of 8.