CONCORD, N.C. -- This weekend, the two Hendrick Motorsports drivers still alive in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will approach the race at Talladega Superspeedway with the same mindset -- battle for Victory Lane.
But Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson enter the event under different circumstances.
With his win at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson has already clinched his spot in the Round of 8.
“We haven’t taken anything for granted and we raced last weekend going for a win -- we will do the same this weekend in Talladega," he said. "It is nice to not have to worry about advancing with Talladega being the cut-off race, but our speedway program is outstanding and we will have a great Lowe’s Chevy for this weekend."
Elliott, meanwhile, essentially needs to win in order to secure his place in the next round. In order to clinch on points, he would need help based on other competitors' finishes.
Currently 12th in the standings, he is currently 18 points behind the driver in 11th and 25 points behind the competitor in eighth place -- the cut-off to advance to the next round.
“We will just need to go and race our hearts out and try to win," Elliott said. "That’s about all we can do."
Though he has yet to earn his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, Elliott's nine top-five finishes in 2016 are the most by a rookie since Carl Edwards scored 13 in 2005.
And he has shown speed throughout the Chase, leading laps in all but one race and leading the second-most laps in two of the five events. And in the one race he did not lead a lap -- Dover -- he still reeled off a third-place result.
So he will look to continue that success with his postseason run in the balance.
"The best place to be at Talladega, as everybody knows, is to try to be out front," Elliott said. "That is hard to sustain for a long period of time in those races, but we’ve seen guys who have gotten good at it over the past few years. They make it happen and are able to control a race really well. I do think there is an art to it."
He'll attempt to perfect that art on Sunday. The race is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be broadcast on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.