Saturday, June 25, 2022

Chase Elliott approaches next-gen comfort

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The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro from Hendrick Motorsports has enjoyed mixed success in the 2022 Cup Series season. Chase Elliott has a win and the points lead, but he’s also overcome some issues driving the next-gen car.

Elliott addressed his early season struggles before the Coca-Cola 600. He explained that he’s still learning the intricacies of the next-generation Chevrolet Camaro and that he still has some skills to acquire. In particular, Elliott isn’t at the point where he can tell his crew exactly what to adjust over the course of a race.

“I’m still learning. There’s just a lot of little details I still need to get used to to feel good and have enough experience to know what I want in the car,” Elliott told media, transcript included courtesy of Team Chevy “I think that was something where we got to a point with the old car where I could almost tell what part of the car I needed to work on better, and I’m with this one.” “Car hasn’t really gotten there yet. Hopefully I can help my boys at some point and steer us in a better direction over time.”

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The Coca-Cola 600 was a fitting example of the problems. Elliott started in the middle of the field but he rushed forward and won Stage 1. He continued to battle with Daniel Suarez during Stage 2 but he hit the wall and broke a toe joint.

The No. 9 team was able to make repairs and get Elliott back on track, but he did not finish the race. He actually garaged his car at the end of stage two after the big one had taken place and collected several of the best drivers in the field including Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney. Elliott’s car fell victim to the damaged vehicle policy and resulted in his first DNF of the year.

While still not at his desired level of comfort, Elliott has continued to struggle for strong finishes in the 2022 season. He’s competed in every race and achieved top 10 finishes at tricky tracks like Daytona International Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

A bigger example of Elliott’s consistency is his place on the stage point leaderboard. He has just three stage wins — fewer than Ryan Blaney (four) and the same tally as William Byron (three), Ross Chastain and Martin Truex Jr. (three) — but he holds the top spot in points. Elliott entered the Coca-Cola 600 weekend with 124 stage points, adding 10 more after winning Stage 1.

Elliott had also secured first place in the championship standings after the trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway, but he didn’t reach victory lane until six weeks later. He won the race at Dover Motor Speedway on May 2 after leading 73 of the 400 laps. This performance cemented his place at the top of the standings, which he has retained.

The Dawsonville native has added several trophies to his collection throughout his Cup Series career. He has 14 career wins, each of which carries a trophy. He also has the trophy for winning the Cup Series championship in 2020.

There is one trophy Elliott has yet to secure. He has yet to win the championship in the regular season during his Cup Series career, but he is on track to achieve that goal. He has the points lead and can win the regular season championship if he stays consistent in the remaining races.

If Elliott secures this elusive trophy, he will have an edge in making the playoffs. He’ll lock 15 bonus points that almost guarantee he’ll automatically make it past the first round of 16.

“Well, it’s worth three wins, isn’t it? So it’s a very big deal,” Elliott added during his media availability. “Anything you can do to hedge your bet and have bonus points will only improve your chances of making it to Phoenix (Raceway). These points are on the table for everyone at the start of the season.

“We wanted her every year. It’s not just because you make the points that you want them more. We want them all the time. My desire for those 15 points is unchanged today compared to previous years or other circumstances. We would like to have her.”

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“We wanted her every year. It’s not just because you make the points that you want them more. We want them all the time. My desire for those 15 points is unchanged today compared to previous years or other circumstances. We would like to have her.”

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