BROOKLYN, Mich. – Having finished as the runner-up eight times, Chase Elliott knows firsthand just how difficult it is to secure a win in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Even with a win now on his resume, he doesn’t expect that fact to change.
“As you move forward, they don’t get any easier,” he said. “I definitely feel a lot of relief to have finally won a race after being so close so many times. I certainly feel like I have some more confidence that I haven’t had leading into a race weekend, which is nice, but that doesn’t mean things are going to get any easier – I think that just a lot of relief for myself and my team. I’m excited to see where we go moving forward.”
Now that the No. 9 team is locked into the postseason – Elliott currently sits fifth in the playoff standings – the driver said that security allows for more aggressive strategy calls in the final four races of the regular season.
With eight playoff points – five for his Watkins Glen International victory and one apiece of his three stage wins – already in the bank, Elliott will be looking to accumulate as many more as possible down the stretch.
“It’s such a nice feeling to come into these last few races and know that you’re locked in,” he said. “Playoff points are really important to get, and I think that’s our goal, to try to get as many of those as we can, whether it be winning stages or trying to put yourself in position to win.”
Based on his past performance at the next track on the Cup Series schedule, Elliott hopes he’ll be in position to win once again this weekend.
He has never finished outside of the top 10 in all five career Cup Series starts at Michigan International Speedway – owning the series’ longest active streak of starts prior to finishing outside the top 10 at the venue – and currently holds the best average finish (4.6) of all time at the track.
His three top-five finishes at Michigan were all runner-up results.
“This has been a pretty good track for us in general,” Elliott said.
If the 22-year-old were to bring home the checkered flag this Sunday, he would join Dick Linder (1950), Jim Reed (1958), Ned Jarrett (1959) and Billy Wade (1964) as drivers who earned their first two Cup wins in consecutive races.
Sunday also just so happens to be Elliott’s 100th career Cup Series start. So, if he won, he would join the ranks of five other drivers – Lee Petty (1953), Junior Johnson (1959), Rex White (1960), Fred Lorenzen (1965), and Carl Edwards (2007) – who have won their 100th Cup start.
History might be on Elliott’s side – after all, once he earned his very first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory, he won again the very next week.
“I hope so,” the driver said when asked if history could repeat itself. “I hope this weekend goes well. I think it will be kind of a gauge of where we stack up for some of these racetracks that are coming up.”
Sunday’s race is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.