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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

Chase Elliott Putting Up Big Numbers

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Don’t look now, but the hottest driver in NASCAR not named Martin Truex Jr. is second-year Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott.

Truex, of course, has won two of the four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff races in his Furniture Row Racing Toyota, with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch taking the other two.

But Elliott has finished second in three of the four playoff races, including Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Truex won again. Elliott’s runner-up finish, coupled with strong performances in the first two stages of the race, moved the second-generation driver to fourth in the Cup points standings.

After the next two races at Talladega Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway, the field of championship hopefuls will be trimmed from 12 to eight, so moving up in the points is critical if Elliott wants to make it to the next round.

With 70 career Cup starts under his belt, Elliott has finished second six times but is still looking for his first victory. Understandably, he’s growing impatient.

“It’s frustrating to run like this. We’re definitely tired of running second,” Elliott said after Sunday’s race at Charlotte. “But, if we keep running like we are, hopefully the opportunities will be there.” 

Elliott knew where he came up just a little short on Sunday.

“We needed to be a little better I think in the middle stage and not lose so much track position,” said Elliott. “That was where Martin (Truex, Jr.) came on and got his track position, and we lost ours and it was just hard to get all of it back there toward the end. It was a hard-fought day and really, from where we were in those middle stages, I was proud of the way we fought back and were able to get back to the front.”

That said, the Georgia native is pleased that he’s running better of late.

“Obviously, we’d like to pick up one spot, but overall just the way we’ve been running since the playoffs started has been refreshing, and definitely makes it a lot of fun to come to the track and know that our car is going to drive pretty good,” said Elliott. “Our pit stops have been really nice, and now is definitely the time of year to do that.  So hopefully we can carry it forward, what, five or six more weeks and see what it’s got to offer.”

Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen is a veteran motorsports journalist. He spent 13 years with FOXSports.com, where he was Digital Content Manager. Previously, he was executive editor of NASCAR Scene and managing editor of National Speed Sport News. Jensen served as the president of the National Motorsports Press Association and is the group’s former Writer of the Year.