CONCORD, N.C. – Entering last weekend at Richmond Raceway, Chase Elliott was looking up at the cut line in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, nine points back in the 14th position.
But after a fourth-place finish Saturday night – including fourth-place finishes in both Stage 1 and Stage 2 – he is now up to ninth in the playoff standings. He holds a 10-point advantage over the 13th-place competitor, which would be the first one eliminated following this weekend’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “roval.”
“We are in a position where we have to run like that to get through,” Elliott said following the Richmond race.
After fighting through one of the more challenging practices he’s had all season, Elliott commended the No. 9 team for making critical adjustments that helped contribute to the strong performance.
“I appreciate (No. 9 team crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) making some good calls overnight,” Elliott said. “I feel like we changed about everything before qualifying (Friday). Typically, that does not work, so, just appreciate everybody’s efforts on my Hooters team to do that and put enough thought process and care into it to want to get better.”
Rolling off the grid 18th, Elliott raced his way into the top 10 by Lap 40. The extra points he earned with top-five finishes in both stages helped him make the five-driver jump in the playoff standings.
The driver of the No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 led 34 laps in the event, though he noted that his car was much better on the long runs than during restarts on fresh tires.
“I just couldn’t go like those guys could,” he explained. “Their cars were certainly different than mine. I felt like as the race went on, my long run advantage went away a little more and more as the racetrack rubbered up.”
Still, Elliott continued to run in or near the top five all the way to the checkered flag to take home the fourth-place finish, his ninth top-five result of the season.
The driver credited his teammates’ efforts for the strong performance.
“For those guys to do what they did and make our car drive like it did (Saturday) was really impressive,” he said.