CONCORD, N.C. – Chase Elliott and the No. 9 team made a significant move in the owner playoffs based on Sunday’s results at Talladega Superspeedway.
The No. 9 team entered the middle race of the Round of 12 ninth in the standings and two points behind the elimination line. With two top-five finishes in the opening two stages (fourth in stage one and fifth in stage two), Elliott earned 13 stage points for his team (second-most in the race, trailing teammate William Byron’s 18 on the day). With his seventh-place result in the race, the team tallied 43 points, the third-highest total in the 188-lap event.
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"We got some decent stage points," Elliott said after the race. "Finishing seventh, hopefully that’s good enough to help us in the owner’s championship points."
Heading into the final race in the Round of 12, the team ranks fourth in the owner standings and a holds a 20-point advantage on the elimination line. The Talladega results produced a 22-point gain from where the No. 9 team stood after Texas Motor Speedway.
Since the playoffs began, the results show that Elliott and the No. 9 team have been one of the strongest teams on track. He is one of four drivers to earn four top-10 finishes in the last five races (with the lone result outside the top 10 being a run of 11th at Texas). Elliott has posted the third-best average finish (7.80) and scored the fourth-most points (184).
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Despite not being in the driver playoffs, the group’s approach has not changed. They are approaching this as another postseason run because that is exactly what it is. The owner championship carries a huge amount of importance to teams. This championship is where the payout to teams is determined. It takes into account all the results for the car number in a given season. In addition to Elliott’s stats, these standings also include the finishes and points from the seven races that the Dawsonville, Georgia, native missed earlier in the year.
"My approach and the team’s approach has not been any different," Elliott said last week. "It’s kind of surprised me in a way because obviously there is a lot of talk about the driver side and there is not really a lot of talk about the owner’s front. Once the deal got started, I don’t feel any different than I have felt in years past. It still keeps us very motivated and keeps me motivated to want to go and do a good job."
Next up on the schedule is the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. Elliott, crew chief Alan Gustafson and the No. 9 team have won their twice, claiming back-to-back victories in 2019 and 2020. In fact, those two wins are among the series-best seven (among active driver-crew chief pairings) that Elliott and Gustafson have earned on road courses. At the 2.32-mile serpentine layout, Elliott has led the most laps (94), scored the most points (205) and posted the third-best average finish (8.00) among drivers in Sunday’s field during the five years that this race has been on the schedule. He is also closing in on a personal milestone as he is three laps led away from 5,000 circuits out front in his Cup Series career.
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"I’m always reminded every year that there is something crazy that happens," Elliott said of the playoffs. "It comes down to the last race and somebody that you thought would never make it through the round, somehow makes it through the round. Just goes to show you that things can change quickly."
Watch Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team look to advance to the Round of 8 of the owner playoffs on Sunday, Oct. 8, at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, NBC Sports App, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).