CONCORD, N.C. -- A consistent first NASCAR Cup Series season earned Chase Elliott the 2016 Rookie of the Year honor.
And now, as the 21-year-old driver prepares to begin his second championship run in the sport's postseason playoffs, a look back at his 2017 regular season looks unmistakably similar to 2016.
His sophomore season began once again with the Daytona 500 pole award -- his second in as many years. After garnering a handful of top-five and top-10 finishes throughout the earlier part of the season, the No. 24 team hit somewhat of a summer slump both years.
However, the rookie driver and his No. 24 team stayed consistent in their work ethic, making the postseason playoffs and ultimately finishing the season 10th in the 2016 standings.
"We struggled throughout the summer months last year as an organization then, too," Elliott said. "I thought for us (the No. 24 team), I thought we peaked about now last year. Started the playoffs, got through Chicago. I thought Chicago was really our first step in running really good last fall. I look at Charlotte being a really good race for us, Kansas. We had some great races then."
And if this season is anything like last year, the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS team should be looking to peak again as the playoffs get underway.
“I think for us, we've got to focus on ourselves first and foremost, try to be consistent," Elliott said of the team's mindset heading into Sunday's race at Chicagoland. "I think consistency will carry you a pretty good distance in this deal."
And it's true. Making it through the first playoff round in 2016 with two top-five finishes, Elliott advanced to the Round of 12 before being eliminated at the Talladega cut-off race.
“Just goes to show you," Elliott said, "one improvement -- whether it's in the shop, at the racetrack, something the pit stop guys figured out -- whatever it is, if you hit it at the right time, which now is the time, then it can carry you a long ways."
While his first career Cup Series win is still on the table, Elliott is also now looking toward his first career Cup Series championship -- the two of which are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
“I'd love to win, but I'd love to advance through the playoffs," he said. "I think if you do one, you're going to have a shot to do the other.”
Catch all the action at Chicagoland Speedway this Sunday, Sept. 17, at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, MRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.