Photo: Chris Owens/ASP, Inc.

On the Playoff Radar After Charlotte: Chase Elliott

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

Running inside the top-10 normally wouldn’t mean that Chase Elliott flew under the radar, however, the dramatic last lap meant that his run was quietly forgotten. While teammate Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex, Jr. spun in the final corner, and Ryan Blaney won, Elliott quietly finished the race in sixth.

Elliott finished inside the Top-10 after a strong qualifying effort put his No. 9 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 fourth on the grid. In the chaotic finish to the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he hovered at the tail-end of the top-five throughout the entirety of the 109-lap race.

The race was dominated by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, and eventual race winner Blaney. A tame first two stages allowed Elliott to run fifth and seventh in the stages, despite three different pit sequences throughout the field.

Elliott admitted that he, and possibly much of the field, were on defense.

“It was still kind of eventful for us. You look at how the day went there and just anything can happen. It’s just hard and you can’t feel comfortable in those situations there at the end. I wish I had been a little more aggressive on that last restart. I felt like I was just kind of playing defense.

“It’s just not worth busting your butt and not making it through to the next round when you had a little bit of cushion. So, I am just glad we are moving on and I am looking forward to the next three because there are some good tracks for us.”

After the events of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, Elliott is ninth on the Playoff Grid. He now sits 47-points behind Kyle Busch, the Championship Points Leader. Elliott is just five points behind Blaney, who holds the final transfer spot for the Round of Eight.

Looking ahead to next weekend’s Gander Outdoors 400 at Dover International Speedway, Elliott’s odds are the best of in the field. Among active drivers, he has the best average finish, 5.00 in five career starts at the 1.0-Mile Concrete track.

Elliott is second among drivers in the five most recent races at the track. Truex has the best average finish, 4.20. Elliott’s driver rating at Dover is 104.4. His only finish outside the top-five is a 12th-place finish earlier this season. In Elliott’s career, the Hendrick Motorsports driver has led 183 laps at the ‘Monster Mile.’

Now Elliott, crew chief Alan Gustafson, and the entire No. 9 team will look to finish one spot better than last year’s Dover race in their attempt to conquer ‘Miles the Monster.’

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Seth Eggert has followed NASCAR his entire life. Seth is currently pursuing a writing career and is majoring in Communications and Journalism. He is an avid iRacer and video gamer. Seth also tutors students at Mitchell Community College in multiple subjects. He has an Associate's Degree in History.