CONCORD, N.C. – With only two races remaining before the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begin, Chase Elliott continues to make strides in the right direction.
A strong performance Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway saw the driver lead 112 laps, pick up fourth- and second-place finishes in Stages 1 and 2, respectively, and take home a third-place result.
He gained 50 additional points with the result.
“We had a great car and it was really good through those mid stages – I was really able to capitalize and lead some laps,” Elliott said.
Though he came away with impressive stage results and a top-five finish, Elliott was hoping to pick up playoff points by winning a stage or the race. He’s currently sixth in the playoff standings with eight playoff points.
“I just wish we could have capitalized,” he said. “This was a really great opportunity for us to get some more playoff points.”
Elliott led 54 laps in Stage 2 and took the lead again in the final segment on Lap 297. He held the lead until a caution flag waved with less than 150 laps to go and on several restarts was caught in the inside lane, which struggled to gain momentum all night.
“We kept getting the bottom on all the restarts and it was just hard to go forward,” Elliott said.
Even with the challenges on restarts, Elliott continued to charge, and he battled to stay near the front of the field until the checkered flag waved.
“I had a car that I felt like could contend with those guys, and we had it riding,” he said. “We got it right there at the end.”
On the final restart, Elliott took the green flag in eighth, and this time he restarted in the quicker outside lane. He was able to gain positions down the stretch, moving up five spots to finish third.
“Man, that thing was really fast there at the end,” Elliott said. “We were making up some ground on those guys.”
Though the No. 9 team came short of a victory, Elliott shared optimism about the team’s continued improvement and speed of his Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
Overall, the driver was impressed with the team’s performance Saturday night, and he can’t wait to get back to “The Last Great Colosseum.”
“I wish we did more of it,” Elliott said of short-track racing. “It doesn’t get any cooler or anymore fun than racing here and at a venue like this, a racetrack this fun and when the driver can really make a big difference. That’s really all you can ask for.”