Chase Elliott’s ‘rut’ may be what helps him earn his first career Cup win

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Chase Elliott remains stuck in a rut of sorts.

But if finishing second three straight times at Michigan International Speedway is a rut, Elliott will take it.

Elliott finished second in both races at MIS last year, first to Joey Logano in June and then Kyle Larson in August.

It was the same finish again Sunday in the FireKeepers Casino 400, as Larson won and Elliott was again second.

But Elliott still managed to get some consolation from his second-place showing. If nothing else, his finish at Michigan continued to bring him closer to what he seeks the most: his first career Cup win.

“Yeah, I hope so,” Elliott said in the post-race media conference. “I really felt like we ran better last year in the two races than what we ran today. I think we executed the race better today than what we did last year on pit road, with restarts, the way things played out.

“If you had to choose one or the other, I would rather overachieve with a car, finish a little better than what we deserved, than the other way around. So I was proud of that.

“Obviously, we would much rather win the race, but we gave ourselves a couple opportunities at the end, restarting up front, which was nice. Had a couple decent ones. Just didn’t work out in our favor.”

This was Elliott’s second top five and third top 10 in the last three races. That, after a terrible four-race run where he finished 24th (Richmond), 30th (Talladega), 29th (Kansas) and 38th (Charlotte).

“But it wasn’t easy,” Elliott said.

“We really struggled Friday and Saturday,” he said. “(I) felt like we overachieved today from what we thought we were going to have kind of coming into the race.

“Those are the kind of things that you have to have, whether you have a really fast car or a mediocre car. Our pit stops were just incredible on pit road, which is a huge help. I mean, I can’t express how nice that was to come in and gain two or three spots. It was unreal.

“(I) hope we can keep some of that moving forward. Gave ourselves a chance at the end. Really at the end of the day that’s all you can ask for.”

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