CONCORD, N.C. – The Round of 12 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup came to a close Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, and Jimmie Johnson officially moved on to the Round of 8, while Chase Elliott saw his run toward a championship come to a close.
ELLIOTT’S CHASE RUN ENDS
Elliott did what he set out to do Sunday – he found his way to the front of the pack. But he wasn’t able to find Victory Lane, and in the process he narrowly missed advancing to the Round of 8 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“I felt like we tried hard again this weekend and we were able to lead some laps and stay up front for a good portion of the race there at the beginning,” he said. “We couldn’t work our way back through there at the right time there at the end.”
As the laps wound down, Elliott continued to try to be “as aggressive as we could to try to make stuff happen.” He jumped in and out of line to try to form a new lane with some momentum to go catch the leaders.
It’s all about power in numbers, he explained, and it didn’t come together in time to make a big move.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t get our lane to go when we needed it,” he said.
He crossed the finish line 12th, and he was proud of the No. 24 team’s effort throughout the entire Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“Disappointed we came up short,” he said. “This NAPA team has been fighting hard these past few weeks. We've had some awesome race cars and it's definitely unfortunate to come up short there."
While his run for a championship in 2016 is at an end, it doesn’t mean Elliott’s mindset will change in the final four races of the season. And that continues next week at Martinsville Speedway.
“We’ll move on to Martinsville and try to go get them,” he said.
JOHNSON READY TO RACE
While Elliott was eliminated from the Chase at Talladega, his teammate Johnson moved on to the penultimate round of the postseason.
Thanks to his Bank of America 500 win at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson advanced to the Round of 8 for the first time since the Chase moved to its current elimination format.
“It’s time to go racing,” Johnson said. “We will see what happens in these next three races.”
The Round of 8 kicks off next week at Martinsville Speedway, where Johnson’s eight wins are the fourth-most all-time.
It continues at Texas Motor Speedway, where Johnson has won five of the last eight races – including three of the last four. His six total wins at Texas are the most all-time.
The Round of 8 finale comes at Phoenix International Raceway, and Johnson’s four wins at the track are the second-most all-time. From there, four drivers will be eliminated and the Championship 4 will move on to race for the Sprint Cup title at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Excited about the three tracks that are coming up,” Johnson said. “They are great for us historically. I hope they continue to be great tracks for us as we look for our seventh championship.”