The fan-favorite, Chase Elliott, has finally advanced to the Championship 4. In every full-time season Elliott has competed in, he has reached the Round of 8 but always came up short prior to the championship race. With all that now behind him, the 24-year-old can now solely focus on taming the track that has been his kryptonite in the Fall over the last few years.
Before we get into his success this season, we have to talk about Elliott’s whirlwind performances at Phoenix Raceway.
The Spring races early on the season at Phoenix have never been an issue for Elliott. He has posted finishes of eighth, 12th, third, 14th and seventh. He had an opportunity to win the Spring 2020 race after leading 93 laps but a loose wheel forced him to pit, which is why he had to rally back into the top 10.
The race from earlier this season was reminiscent of his bad luck at Phoenix previously. Let’s flashback to the 2017 Fall race. After being taken out of advancing to the Championship 4 when Denny Hamlin spun him at Martinsville, Elliott exacted his revenge on Hamlin and put Hamlin into the wall. Hamlin cut a tire a few laps later and he was eliminated from the postseason. Elliott led in the closing stages of the race but Matt Kenseth found speed at the end to pass Elliott and win the final race of his career. Elliott finished second but it wasn’t enough to advance to Homestead.
In 2018, Elliott won the second stage and looked to have the fastest car on the track. However, on one of the final pit stops of the day, Elliott suffered a speeding penalty and had to work his way back up the field. At the beginning of a restart late in the race, Elliott was collected in a multi-car incident that also involved Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin. Elliott finished that race 23rd.
Last Fall, Elliott, once again, had a car that could compete for a win. He ran inside the top three in both stages. However, early in the final stage, he cut a tire and crashed into the outside wall in turn two. He finished 39th.
All the bad luck for Elliott will need to come to an end Sunday if he wants to win a championship. However, he will deal with adversity before the race as he failed pre-race inspection twice and have to start from the rear of the field.
This season has been Elliott’s best in the Cup Series. He matched his career-best average finish that he set in 2017 at 12th. The difference between 2017 and this season is that he had no wins in 2017. This year, he has four.
He nabbed a win in the second Charlotte race in the Spring. He then proved to be a master of road courses as he dominated at the Daytona road course and the Charlotte Roval. With his back against the wall heading into the cutoff race at Martinsville, Elliott led 236 laps en route to a win and a ticket punched into the Championship 4.
He may have to deal with adversity early on in the race but Chase Elliott has defeated enough of his demons to finally earn the right to become a champion in NASCAR.