AVONDALE, Ariz. — Like his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott said his approach for this Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway is straightforward.
“Our task at hand is pretty simple — we have to win the race to move on next week,” he said.
But the driver and the entire No. 24 are turning the pressure-packed situation into a positive.
“It’s not the most ideal situation, but if you were able to pull it off it would be a lot of momentum moving into next week,” Elliott said. “We will give it our best shot and see what happens.”
In three career starts at Phoenix, Elliott has two top-10 finishes, and though he finished 12th at the track earlier this year, he led 106 laps along the way.
In the first eight races of the playoffs, Elliott has four top-five finishes – three of which were runner-up results. He has led laps in six of the eight.
That has combined to give Elliott confidence in what the No. 24 team will be able to do in this weekend’s Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix.
“We have run these last eight weeks probably better than we have run the entire season,” he said. “I think that is encouraging that we have the kind of pace that it takes to go and compete for wins. We have the execution, we have the pit stops and we have all the things that it takes for it to happen. It hasn’t, but I think we have the kind of things that it takes to do so.”
And the No. 24 team knew it had what it takes to win from the very first race this season, when Elliott earned the pole for the Daytona 500 and led 39 laps, 23 of which came with fewer than 30 laps remaining.
The pressure of leading “The Great American Race” down the stretch reminded Elliott of the pressure of this weekend’s one final race to join the Championship 4.
“Fortunate to currently have had opportunities to do both,” he said. “And I still do have an opportunity to compete for a championship, which is more than I could say a year ago.”
He’ll do everything he can to capitalize on that opportunity this Sunday.
“We still have a chance to go to Homestead next week,” Elliott said, “and we will try our best to do that.”