DOVER, Del – For Chase Elliott and No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson, maintaining positive energy and not being consumed by pressure has been a key factor to the team’s success.
And after securing the team’s second victory of the season Sunday at Dover International Speedway, the duo’s consistent approach week to week continues to pay dividends.
“Alan’s approach is great,” Elliott said. “He lets me do my thing and I let him do his thing. He doesn’t question me, I don’t question him. To me, it’s really simple and it works great. I’ve always appreciated that approach.”
It’s a mindset Elliott prefers and thrives on, and it’s one very similar to someone very close to him.
“He reminds me a lot of my dad in that sense because Dad has always let me do my thing and has never really questioned it along the way,” the driver said. “That’s all I can ask for from a guy who’s leading the team or in that position.”
Gustafson also spoke highly of Elliott, and he commended the 22-year-old driver for remaining poised and persevering through two challenging restarts with under 10 laps to go.
“He’s constantly maturing, and you’ve got to get through those situations,” Gustafson said. “He’s way above the curve, but anybody, when you’re in those situations, you’ve got to go through.”
During the first of two late-race cautions Sunday, Gustafson elected to have Elliott stay on track and as a result, the driver took the lead for the ensuing restart.
“I think that was our best opportunity to win the race, and it was our best opportunity to score the most points we could score,” the crew chief said of the strategy.
Elliott maintained that lead until another caution flag sent the race into overtime. Once again, Elliott was able to hold his lead on the restart and remained in front all the way to checkered flag.
“You keep working at it, and certainly we support him and think the world of him and think he’s as good as anybody out there,” Gustafson said of Elliott.
Through all of Sunday’s challenges, Elliott was thankful to have Gustafson guiding him to Victory Lane.
“I’m just appreciative of the opportunity to work with him,” the driver said. “I think he’s as good as it gets at the end of the day.”
Securing a spot in the Round of 8 was critical, but capturing a win at Dover after a close runner-up finish a year ago at the venue made the win even more meaningful.
“It’s obviously really sweet any time you can win one of these races,” Gustafson said. “It's a great honor, and it's what you strive to do. Really fond of Dover. It's a great racetrack, and we've had a great record here. It was nice to close the deal.”
Now, the No. 9 team is ready to carry its momentum to Talladega this coming weekend.
“There’s no getting off the gas now,” Gustafson said. “It’s wound up and going. It’s running. We won’t slow down.”