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OPINION: Will Chase Elliott Visit Victory Lane in 2018?

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Entering his third season of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition, there’s only one focus on Chase Elliott‘s mind – getting that elusive first career victory.

“I think at this point I ought to know how to do that much at least,” he said. “Think that I’m capable of doing it.  I think we’ve had the speed and the ability to compete for wins.  I think we’ve shown that on more than one occasion. Just a matter of actually doing it.  Sound like a broken record, but you just got to do it.  We’re capable.  Just got to make it happen.”

He has proven capable of making it happen, getting close on multiple occasions last season.

Leading in the final laps at Martinsville Speedway, a punt from Denny Hamlin sent him around. There was also getting passed with nine laps to go by Matt Kenseth at ISM Raceway, or losing to Kyle Larson on a late-race restart at Michigan International Speedway. Frustration also seeped in when he got caught behind a lap car and passed by Kyle Busch at Dover International Speedway. And who can forget leading the Daytona 500 and running out of gas in the final laps? 

“I think the Dover race was probably the biggest bummer of all of them because I felt like I could have done more that day to change the result more than the rest of the days,” he said. “A lot of people don’t understand – my frustration is the worst when I know I could have done something different to change the result.”

But those losses aren’t on the mind entering this year, as Elliott says “there’s no point” to continue thinking about it. 

So, will Elliott visit victory lane in 2018? Absolutely.

It’s not like he hasn’t won a race, as he won the Budweiser Duel last season. But this year, it’s time for a points event victory. 

The adage goes “to win one, you must lose one first,” and he has certainly had his fair share to date. Each of those has provided lessons in what to do in future circumstances, continuing to improve his craft as a driver. Combining all those moments, and you have the knowledge needed.

The other saying is “if you put yourself in position enough times, it will eventually be your day.” Elliott has proven to be able to do that, as evident by scoring 12 top-fives and 21 top-10’s last year, continually running up front. If all the circumstances fall together, then it will happen.

Though beyond that, his versatility as a driver will be the biggest asset. He isn’t just competitive on one type of track but instead has shown his ability to get it done on each circuit the series visits. From short tracks to intermediates, he has run among the best, and doing so will eventually see the moment happen. He has also shown flat-out speed (Michigan), but the ability to conserve and wait to pounce if necessary (Darlington Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway). 

He is also with a proven organization, Hendrick Motorsports, that has visited victory lane on multiple occasions with different drivers. Although surrounded by a pair of new teammates and the new Chevrolet Camaro for variables, they seem to be picking up on it immediately with William Byron in the top-five at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway test.

You could also say some of the pressure is removed. When he entered the sport set to the drive of the No. 24, a lot of added expectations were placed on his shoulders being Jeff Gordon‘s replacement. However, now back in the No. 9, it could the more relaxed feeling that is needed. 

Entering the year, frankly, it’s not a matter if he will win, but a question of when that victory will happen. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.