CONCORD, N.C. – After finishing the 2018 season with his first three NASCAR Cup Series wins, Chase Elliott said he’s expecting a “fresh start” in 2019.
“It’s nice to have won a couple races, but I’m not sure how much of that you can really ride into the next year,” the driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 said. “Things that happen in October are hard to carry all the way to February and Daytona, but I do think some of that confidence that was gained in our team and being able to close out races were nice.”
Most importantly, Elliott and the No. 9 team don’t intend to rest on their laurels simply because they found Victory Lane last season.
The driver’s main goal for 2019, he said, is to continue to improve and compete for wins week-in and week-out.
“Doing that regularly I think is the ultimate goal,” he said. “I think that separates the guys who win a couple here and there and the guys who are really good. So, I would much rather be one of the really good bunch.”
Entering his fourth season in the Cup Series, NASCAR’s reigning Most Popular Driver said he hasn’t been behind the wheel of a race car since the 2018 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
That has him itching to hit the track, and he’s excited to use his eligibility to compete in The Clash to his advantage.
That comes this Sunday, when the exhibition race provides the perfect opportunity to test out the car and new rules package at Daytona International Speedway.
“I think it's definitely a good tune‑up, especially for the guys that didn't get selected to test throughout the offseason,” he said. “It will be nice to get in a race and make sure everything looks right and feels right, and those cars are really similar to one another usually from The Clash to the 500. So, I'm sure there's things to learn.”
While teammates Jimmie Johnson and William Byron are working with new crew chiefs this season – Kevin Meendering and Chad Knaus, respectively – Elliott is entering his fourth year with Alan Gustafson atop the No. 9 team pit box.
The continued growth of their relationship has Elliott confident in what the No. 9 team will be able to accomplish the season, which officially kicks off with the Daytona 500 next Sunday, Feb. 17.
“We work well together, and I think that we enjoy the competition aspect at a similar pace,” Elliott said. “He and I view a lot of things the same way from that aspect, and when you're working with somebody and you're in the roles that he and I are both in, I'm not real sure that there's a much better fit or a better way to go about it.
“We believe in our process of how we prepare for races.”