DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Daytona 500 is right around the corner, and Chase Elliott has his eyes set on a win. Not only for him, but especially for his crew chief, Alan Gustafson.
“I think it would be awesome,” Elliott said. “It's funny. We talked about that the other day, how many opportunities he's had to win it, how close he's come before. He's never won a Daytona 500 or a championship. Would love to deliver both of those things to him. He certainly deserves both.”
Gustafson hails from Ormond Beach, Florida, just down the road from Daytona International Speedway. Though he’s never won a points race at his home track, he has collected Duel wins with Elliott in 2017 and 2018. The 43-year-old crew chief also has two runner-up finishes at the 2.5-mile oval with Kyle Busch in 2006 and 2007, the latter of which marked the closest margin of victory ever in the July race at Daytona – 0.005 seconds.
In 2017, Elliott and Gustafson nearly captured that elusive Daytona 500 win, but the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 ran out of fuel while leading the race on Lap 198 of 200. Elliott ultimately finished 14th.
“In the past 10 years, I would say, four or five of those years his car has probably been the fastest one down here,” Elliott said of Gustafson. “It's pretty impressive how good he is at that. Unfortunate that none of those years have worked out. Hopefully we can get that done for him.”
A Daytona 500 win isn’t the only one Elliott and the No. 9 team are searching for this season.
After earning three victories in 2018, the group wants to be among the competitors in the hunt each and every week in 2019.
“I think just winning and winning often,” Elliott said. “The guys that are good, the guys you see in the final four, they win and they win all the time. When they have their car right, they execute a day, you know they're going to be one of the guys to beat. That's who myself and our team want to be. That, to me, is our goal this season.”
The first opportunity to reach Victory Lane arrives this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
“I think it's certainly achievable,” the driver said. “I'm looking forward to it.”