Elliott Readies For the USA Today 301

Josh Berry,Chase Elliott

9 CHASE ELLIOTT

Age: 28 (Nov. 28, 1995)

Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia

Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia

Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson

Standings: 1st

No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

TO THE POINT: With his third-place finish at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, Chase Elliott took over the NASCAR Cup Series regular season points lead for the first time in 2024. The last time he led the pre-playoffs standings was in 2022 when he went on to capture the regular season championship. Elliott is the third Hendrick Motorsports driver to sit atop the Cup Series this year, joining teammates Kyle Larson and William Byron. Currently, he is ahead of second-place Larson by eight points.

STELLAR SEASON: Elliott, the six-time National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver, leads all drivers with a 9.12 average finish through 17 races, the best of his Cup career. He has also finished inside the top 20 in all 17 events, the first driver to do so since Jeff Burton in 2008. In 2024, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has completed all but one lap of competition, the best mark since 2016 when Kurt Busch finished every lap of the first 17 races. Elliott’s only blemish came in March at Bristol Motor Speedway, where just five cars finished on the lead lap. He still finished eighth.

MILESTONE MET: At Iowa, Elliott became the fifth-youngest Cup Series driver to reach 100 top-five finishes at 28 years, 6 months and 19 days. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native follows NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Jeff Gordon as well as active drivers Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Elliott is in a four-way tie for the most top-five finishes this season (seven).

READY FOR SOME MAGIC: This weekend, the Cup Series heads to the 1.058-mile oval of New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In 10 starts at the track in NASCAR’s premier series, Elliott has two top-five finishes and three top-10s, all occurring in his last six starts. His best finish of second came in 2022. The 2020 Cup champion has led 99 laps at New Hampshire and has started inside the top 10 all but four times.

SIMILAR TRACK PERFORMANCE: In his 60 Cup starts on tracks measuring 1 to 1.37 miles in length, Elliott has earned four wins. His first came at Dover Motor Speedway in 2018 and was followed by his championship-clinching performance at Phoenix Raceway in 2020. His two most recent victories came in 2022 at Dover and Nashville Superspeedway. Accompanying the quartet of triumphs are 23 top-five finishes, 30 top-10s and 1,246 laps led. In four 2024 races on this variation of track, Elliott’s best finish is fifth (at Dover).

GREAT GUSTAFSON: Veteran crew chief Alan Gustafson has called 31 Cup Series races atop the pit box at New Hampshire. The Ormond Beach, Florida, native has two wins with two different drivers in his career on the 1.058-mile track, the first with Kyle Busch in 2006 and the second with Mark Martin in 2009. Along with Gustafson’s two wins, he has eight top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and 563 laps led.

FAST FIVE: Through 17 Cup Series races in 2024, the No. 9 pit crew ranks first in average four-tire pit stop time (10.575 seconds). In April at Texas, the five-person team knocked out the fastest four-tire stop of the season with a time of 9.076 seconds. The 2021 Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew award-winning group is comprised of Chad Avrit (rear-tire changer), Jared Erspamer (tire carrier), John Gianninoto (fueler), Nick O’Dell (front-tire changer) and T.J. Semke (jackman).

BACK IN BLUE: NAPA Auto Parts’ blue-based livery is on the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the second weekend in a row. The Atlanta-based company has been the primary partner for Elliott in eight of his 10 Cup Series starts at the Loudon, New Hampshire, facility, including his best finish of second there in 2022.

THREE LEADERS: Following his third-place finish Sunday at Iowa Speedway, Chase Elliott became the third Hendrick Motorsports driver to lead the 2024 NASCAR Cup regular season standings. Teammates William Byron (one week) and Kyle Larson (nine weeks) previously sat atop the series, which has completed 17 of 36 points-paying events.

THIRD TIME: 2024 is the third time Hendrick Motorsports has placed three different drivers atop the standings in a single season. The team first accomplished it in 2009 with the Hall of Fame trio of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin. The second came last year with Alex Bowman, Byron and Larson.

POINT MADE: Going into the 18th points-paying race of 2024 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers are within the top 12 in the Cup standings. Elliott (first), Larson (second) and Byron (fourth) occupy three of the top-four spots, while Bowman, who is tied for the most top-10 finishes in the series, is 12th overall.

DROUGHT BUSTER: Although Hendrick Motorsports has won nine Cup Series races at New Hampshire, its most recent victory at “The Magic Mile” dates to July 2012. Following that performance by driver Kasey Kahne, the team has earned four Cup championships and 104 points-paying victories on 26 other racetracks. Since then, Hendrick Motorsports has finished in every position inside the top 12 at New Hampshire – except first place.

CELEBRATING 40: In 2024, Hendrick Motorsports is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The team holds the all-time NASCAR Cup Series records in every major statistical category, including championships (14), wins (308), pole positions (251) and laps led (80,891). This season, it leads all Cup organizations with seven points-paying victories through 17 races.

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what has led to this season’s success and looking ahead to the playoffs: “I just think we have a really solid group, top to bottom. Everyone has been super committed to finding that 1% each week, and whatever that is, it is. I just think collectively we’ve been solid. I feel that we haven’t reached our full potential yet, and I think that’s exciting. I think that’s okay, too, because it is only halfway through the year. As we all know, the way this playoff situation is now, you want to be good those last 10 (races), and really good in the last five. The trick is being good enough to get to the Round of 8 and really try to be spectacular those last three or four weeks. So it’s really just about having a solid enough base to get you through there and really trying to hit home runs in those last few races.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the team’s potential and focus as we get closer to the playoffs: “I agree with him (Chase Elliott). I don’t think we’ve reached our full potential, and I don’t know that anybody ever does. You can always get better. But relative to our competitors, yeah, I think we have opportunity to improve a lot, but so do they. So you can’t just assume that they’re not going to get better, too. This time of year is always an arms race, so to speak. It’s always going to be about who can stockpile the most information and the most playoff points and put themselves in the best position to really go and execute well in the playoffs. I think we’re in a decent spot there and certainly have some good opportunities in the next few weeks to try to get good finishes. We have an opportunity for the playoff points based off regular season points finish and we certainly want to add more in stages and wins.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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