CONCORD, N.C. – Chase Elliott continued his run of strong road course performances at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. His runner-up finish on the 14-turn layout marked his sixth top-five finish and ninth top-10 of the season.
In the three road course events that Elliott has run this season, he has finished in the top five in all of them – fifth at Sonoma Raceway, third at the Chicago Street Course and second at Indianapolis. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native has the best average finish in those races (3.3), the second-most points scored (115) and is the only driver to place in the top five in each of those three events.
Throughout his career, the 27-year-old driver’s prowess on serpentine layouts is well-documented. He holds the most wins among active drivers on that track type (seven) and ranks third all-time behind NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (nine) and Tony Stewart (eight). The first of those victories came at Watkins Glen International in 2018, which is also the site of this weekend’s race.
PHOTOS: See every road course win for Hendrick Motorsports
Following several close calls in the win column, the New York-located road course was the site of Elliott’s first NASCAR Cup Series triumph. He led 52 of 90 laps on the day en route to the win.
"It will always be special because of that," Elliott said of earning his first win at the 2.45-mile road course. "That was a day I will certainly never forget as a huge achievement in my career and a huge achievement for our team. We had been through some tough losses together and had a lot of really close calls. To finally get over the hump there was a really big deal."
In 2019, the driver of the No. 9 earned another victory at Watkins Glen. His two wins are part of four consecutive by Hendrick Motorsports at this track. Teammate Kyle Larson has won the last two and there was no race at Watkins Glen in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last four races there, Elliott has not finished outside of the top four and has an average finish of 2.0. For his career at the track, Elliott’s 5.7 average finish is the best among any driver with more than three starts. It is also his best venue on the calendar (of tracks where he has made more than two starts).
Those are pretty stout career numbers at the next track on the schedule, especially with Daytona International Speedway lurking to close the regular season. While there is still a mathematical way into the postseason on points for the 2020 Cup Series champion, a win is the surest path to the driver playoffs. In the owner’s standings, the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet squad is the last team in at 51 points above the cutline.
PHOTOS: See all of Chase Elliott's wins at Hendrick Motorsports
"Certainly, don’t want to have yourself in a position to have to win at Daytona, but that’s a possibility at this point," Elliott said as he sits 80 points back of the provisional playoff cutline. "I feel way better about going to Watkins Glen than I do Daytona because there is more in my control going there verses a plate race."
The No. 9 team has been through a lot together in Elliott’s Cup Series career and delivered in big moments. Take his victory in the 2020 Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville Speedway, which put him in the Championship 4. The clutch victory put him in position to compete and win the title the following weekend. Elliott has called that Martinsville win one of the most impactful wins of his career. There’s a comfort in continuity and of knowing the battles you have been in together.
"Being together as long as we have is a big deal," Elliott said of his team led by crew chief Alan Gustafson. "Because of that time together, there’s been a wide range of achievements but also disappointments. I think that you grow together through both of them, maybe even more through the disappointing days than you do through the good ones. That is a huge strength in my opinion. Just having that time together, going through those ups and downs and being able to ride that wave as middle of the road as possible is setting yourself up for success."
Tune in to watch Elliott compete for his third victory at Watkins Glen on Sunday, Aug. 20, at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.