By David Morgan, Associate Editor
HAMPTON, Ga. – There’s no place like home.
Coming off a win two weeks ago at Nashville and a runner-up finish at Road America, Chase Elliott would love nothing more than to add a third victory to his resume this season and pad his points lead with a win in Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The Dawsonville, Georgia native and 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion watched his father, Bill Elliott, win at the track five times over the course of his Hall of Fame worthy career, but the younger Elliott has come up empty thus far in all three NASCAR national series.
Elliott’s best finish in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series at Atlanta was fifth-place and since moving up to the Cup Series, he has scored one top-five finish and six top-10 finishes in eight starts.
“I would love to win here,” Elliott said. “That would be one of the best things to do… to win at your home track. I’ve watched guys do that over the years and you can tell that means a lot to them. I think it would be very much the same. For me, it would be very meaningful to be able to check that box. We’ve been OK here. We had one really good run, I would say; and the rest of them, just kind of mediocre. Now the way that it is with speedway racing, it’s a bit of a toss-up. I think most anybody has a shot this weekend the way this event is now.
“But yeah, I would love to check that box here. That would be super special to me. Having two races here is even better than one because you have two weeks at home versus just one, so I’m all for it. We can race here five times, four times, six times, however much they want.”
Coming off a sixth-place finish on the newly reconfigured track back in March, Elliott will have a prime starting spot when the green flag flies for Sunday’s Quaker State 400, as he was awarded the pole when rain washed out qualifying.
“This weekend’s race will be a lot like the first one,” Elliott said. “I think the difference will be teams now have had a few months to kind of dial in and understand exactly what’s going on underneath the car. I think all the cars are just going to drive better when we come back and typically when that happens, the aggression level will increase and people are going to be more apt to put themselves in compromised situations throughout the event.
“There were a lot of things going on to start the year and I think a lot of people were just trying to survive. Whereas this time everyone is going to be a little bit more comfortable, so decision making will be a little more questionable for a lot of the field I would say.
“For me, I want to try to get to the end. Five hundred miles at Atlanta was one of the longest races of the year in March from my seat. That being said, when you’re in a bit of a marathon event like that, you’ve got to survive. You want to be around there at the end. So, if you can be on the lead lap and not have any damage to your car, you’re probably going to have a shot at it at the end of the event. So for me, I’m just like, ‘man, let’s get to the end and we’ll run then for the win hopefully.’ You never know. You try to take each circumstance for what it is and make the best decision you can.”