By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
The highlight of the day for Chase Elliott was a third-place qualifying effort as he flew under the radar at Richmond Raceway.
Much like Las Vegas one week ago, the Federated Auto Parts 400 was nearly identical to the Spring race at Richmond. With just three natural cautions, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Grid drivers had little chance move up the running order. Elliott’s No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 started with track position, but ultimately couldn’t keep it.
At the end of the first two stages, Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports machine finished in eighth and seventh respectively. Much like his teammates, the 23-year-old struggled throughout the weekend. When the race ended, Elliott was 14th, one lap down. He moved to 13th following the disqualification of Erik Jones.
On whether Hendrick’s short track program is improving, Elliott pointed to his finishing position.
“It was good enough to finish 14th, so you tell me.”
The race was dominated by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and eventual race winner Martin Truex, Jr. Elliott ran just inside the top-10 for the first two stages before slipping backward in the final two green flag runs.
Elliott simply said that he didn’t have a good night.
“I wasn’t very good there at the end. Just had a really bad night.”
After the events of Richmond, Elliott is seventh on the Playoff Grid, 35-points ahead of the cutoff, held by his teammate William Byron. He is 53-points behind points leader Truex.
Looking ahead to next weekend’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Elliott’s odds are some of the best in the field. With just one race on the Roval, the Cup Series drivers are on a relatively even playing field.
Last year, the fourth-year driver finished sixth after starting fourth at the oval-road course hybrid.
Elliott is seventh among active drivers in road course events. He won at Watkins Glen International in 2018 and 2019. Denny Hamlin has the best average finish, 7.30. Elliott’s driver rating at the Charlotte Roval is 104.7.
Now Elliott and the entire No. 9 team will look to take on two brand new corners, and rekindle their road course magic at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval Playoff race and secure a spot in the Round of 12.