LAS VEGAS – Chase Elliott knows what it takes to have success in the playoffs. He’s done it.
Last year, he advanced all the way to the Round of 8 before narrowly being eliminated at ISM Raceway, where he finished second.
His 10-race 2017 playoff run featured seven top-10s, including six top-five results – four of which were runner-up finishes.
“We hit our stride at the right time,” he recalled. “We just fired off those last 10 really good and the momentum was there, had some great runs and then we finished second four times in the last 10 races or something like that. Just got in a grove, got rolling, and things were clicking. My team does a really job of that and I feel like we can get back in that stride again.”
Entering the postseason for the third time in his three NASCAR Cup Series seasons, Elliott is currently eighth in the standings with 2,008 points.
He closed out the regular season with six consecutive top-10 finishes – which tied a career-long streak – before a 15th-place result at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Obviously, Indy was terrible, but aside from that, I thought we had a good run going,” he said. “Not dominant, but I felt like we were getting a little more solid than we had been leading up to that. That’s all you can ask for is try to get to that consistent, solid level and get inside the top five and run there all race long and you’ll have some opportunities.”
Elliott’s six-race streak of top-10 results also included four top-five finishes, including his win at Watkins Glen.
He knows continuing that success will be crucial throughout the playoffs, but particularly early in this first round with the unknown of the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway lurking as the first elimination race.
“A win out here would be huge to get yourself through,” he said of starting strong this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I think we need to put a lot of emphasis on that because it’s going to be important to not go to Charlotte and be concerned.”
He said he feels good heading into the Las Vegas race weekend, as Elliott finished third there in 2017 and he was running inside the top 10 for much of the March Las Vegas race this season, breaking into the top five before a late-race incident ended his day.
And the No. 9 team – and Hendrick Motorsports as a whole – has only gotten better from there.
“I feel like as a company, we’ve gotten better as the year has gone along,” Elliott said. “As we continue to improve, we’ll all be better for it. As we bring fast cars to the racetrack and we make upgrades and we do this and we do that, we’re all going to run better because of that stuff. So, yeah, I have confidence in that and I feel like our improvements will show across the board.
“This is a good time of year to turn it up.”
He’s ready to do exactly that as the final 10-race race to a championship begins.
“I’m just excited to get this last stretch going,” he said. “The summer months can be tough. The season is a long. I feel like everybody kind of gets a last little bit of fire for these last 10 races and kind of resets. I’m ready to get going.”