Elliott Looking For Vegas Improvement


Age: 25 (Nov. 28, 1995)

Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia

Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia

Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson

Standings: 6th

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No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

ROUND OF 12: For the sixth consecutive season, Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, has advanced to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The reigning series champion enters the round seeded sixth, 38 markers behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate and points leader Kyle Larson. In Elliott’s previous 53 playoff races, he has collected six wins, 21 top-five finishes, 30 top-10s and led 1,650 laps.

NEXT SEVEN: Elliott and the No. 9 team have seen their share of success on the next seven tracks to close out the 2021 season. The 25-year-old driver has wins at five of the next seven venues – four of which came during a playoff campaign.

LAS VEGAS STATS: On Sunday, Elliott is set to make his 10th Cup Series start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In his previous nine starts, he has collected two top-five finishes, three top-10s, led 177 laps and has picked up three stage wins. Elliott’s 177 laps led at LVMS are the second-most that he has at a track without a points-paying win (Bristol – 439). He has led in each of the last four Las Vegas races, tied for the second longest active streak at the track. The driver of the No. 9 also has the second-most stage top-10 results of active drivers (15) and he ranks second all-time in stage points earned at the 1.5-mile track (89).

LAST SEASON LOOKBACK: Last year during the playoff race at the Las Vegas venue, Elliott led 73 laps and battled inside the top five for most of the race before lining up ninth for the overtime restart and losing a number of positions. He ultimately finished 22nd. During the race, Elliott’s average running position (4.23) was the second best of all drivers.

1.5 MILERS: Elliott will make his 63rd start on a 1.5-mile track while in Sin City. In his previous 62 1.5-mile races, he has led 799 laps. Last season, he scored his second career 1.5-mile track win at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28. Along with two victories, Elliott has collected 20 top-five finishes – six of which are runner-up results – and 32 top-10s on 1.5-milers.

GUSTAFSON AT LVMS: This weekend, No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 21st race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from atop the pit box. In his previous 20 events with five different drivers (Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Elliott) at the venue, Gustafson has garnered five top-five finishes, eight top-10s and 186 laps led – 177 coming with Elliott.

PLAYOFF PERFORMANCE: The No. 9 team owns the third-best average time for four-tire pit stops at 13.75 seconds through 29 races. The NAPA pit crew is comprised of jackman T.J. Semke, gasman John Gianninoto, tire carrier Jared Erspamer and tire changers Chad Avrit and Nick O’Dell.

NAPA RETURNS TO VEGAS: This weekend, the familiar blue, white and yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme will return to Las Vegas for the second time this season. The Atlanta-based company is serving as majority sponsor for Elliott and the No. 9 team for 25 Cup Series races this season.

NO. 275: Kyle Larson’s performance Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway represented the record-extending 275th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory for Hendrick Motorsports. Earlier this season, the organization broke the all-time team record of 268 Cup Series wins held by the legendary Petty Enterprises.

PLAYOFF PAYOFF: For the first time since 2014, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers remain in contention for the Cup Series championship following the first playoff elimination race. At least two of the team’s drivers have advanced to the Round of 12 each year since 2014, including three in 2019.

THRIVING UNDER PRESSURE: With Larson’s Bristol victory, Hendrick Motorsports has won the last four Cup Series playoff elimination races, including teammate Chase Elliott sweeping the final three last season en route to the 2020 championship. Elliott won the Charlotte ROVAL in the Round of 12, at Martinsville Speedway in the Round of 8 and in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway to clinch the title.

A ONE AND A TWO: Larson’s Bristol win was Hendrick Motorsports’ 25th top-two finish of 2021, which is tied for the second-most all-time through 29 races (Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019). In 1956, Carl Kiekhafer Racing recorded a record 34 top-two finishes in the first 29 Cup Series events. This year, Hendrick Motorsports has 12 victories and 13 runner-up finishes.

GOOD COMPANY: On Saturday night, Larson became the eighth Hendrick Motorsports driver to record a race win during the Cup Series playoffs. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Elliott and Mark Martin won as active playoff contenders, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers recorded victories as non-playoff spoilers. The organization has won a race during the playoffs in a record 17 of the 18 seasons since the format was established in 2004.

WIN CITY: Hendrick Motorsports has six Cup Series victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, including Larson’s triumph in March. Going into Sunday’s playoff race there, the organization holds the track records for top-five finishes (24), top-10s (43) and laps led (1,695). Its four Las Vegas stage wins are tied for the most of any team.

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on returning to Las Vegas: “We haven’t had the best results at Las Vegas. The good thing is I feel like we have been fast out there at times. That’s the frustrating thing. Terrible results. I feel like every time I leave out there I’m mad and ready to go home, but I’m looking forward to this trip. Vegas is a place that I don’t have any ill will toward and again, I feel like we have had pace there. We have just really struggled to get the results. Hopefully, this time is a little different. It would be nice to get a win out there. That would be even better.”

Elliott on not looking ahead to next race or round in playoffs: “Ideally, you don’t want to be in a situation where you have to win that last race. You’d love to win the first one of every round. Maybe the first one and the last one of that round. I think the big thing is not getting ahead of yourself. The way this format is it’s really easy to look ahead a round or set your sights down the road and I think that’s the worst thing you can do. This stuff is taken for granted, in my opinion. You could have two bad races and then the next thing you know you have to win that final race in the round. That’s just the way this format is, and I think we recognize that and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. For us, we take it a week at a time and enjoy those tough spots when they come.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on all four teammates advancing to the Round of 12: “I think everyone is super focused on running as best as we can and winning and transferring. What the No. 24 and No. 48 teams did was great, so to have more Hendrick Chevys in there and more opportunities to advance cars is what we’re going for, so it’s good.”

Gustafson on how the team is preparing for the different style tracks in the second round: “It’s a really tough round. We just have to perform every week. Every track is very different, so we have to be good across all three of those disciplines, which are quite a bit different. It’s rare to have a really good intermediate program and superspeedway program and a good road course program. I feel like we have that – we just have to bring the best cars possible and execute at the track. Stage points will be important. Certainly, everybody knows the volatility of Talladega, so you just want to make sure you get as much as you can in Vegas and as much as you can at the ROVAL. I think we can have success at Talladega but there’s just a lot of circumstances that can get us in trouble.”


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