This is what I like to call Chase Elliott time of year. In fact, this season started back in August when Elliott won for the second consecutive year in Watkins Glen. Last year, Elliott took his WGI win to 11 top 10 finishes over the final 15 races. 10 of those 11 were in the top seven in fact. A year prior, Elliott had nine top 11 finishes over the final 11 weeks of the year.
This year, it’s more of the same.
Prior to his Watkins Glen triumph last month, Elliott was in a rough slump. He had finished outside of the top 10 for seven consecutive races. Five of those seven were outside of the top 20 at that.
But, he turned things around in Watkins Glen again and has only finished outside the top 10 once ever since.
“You get to this time of year, I think it’s a fun time of year,” said Elliott last Saturday from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Our season’s so long, it’s like ‘let’s get to this point.’ I look forward to this part of the year. This is the part of the year that counts and really matters. The weather’s starting to cool off and we’re getting to these tracks and rounds in the Playoffs. It’s high pressure.
“Things definitely don’t get any easier from here.”
He’s right. We saw how one mistake can make a hole too deep to climb out of. Last year, we saw Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson all eliminated from the playoffs in the first round. Jones, crashed from the pole in the playoff opener in Vegas and never rebounded. Elliott, has finished 30th or worse in three of his five career starts on the 1.5-mile track.
He did finish ninth this past March and eyeing a strong result on Sunday.