Chase Elliott won Stage 2 of the Cup race at New Hampshire and earned his first bonus point for this year’s championship battle. That signaled a turnabout for the No. 9 team that makes him one of the most likely challengers for the Big 3 two races before the playoffs begin according to the NASCAR America analysts.
“When you start winning stages, as he did, then you’re making a difference,” Dale Jarrett said on NASCAR America. “You’re running up front. You’re leading laps, and there’s a lot of other drivers who have aspirations of being part of the Championship 4 who aren’t doing that. If you can’t put yourself in that position, you can’t challenge for a win.”
The following week, Elliott won Stage 1 of the Pocono race. A week later, he led the field to the end of Stage 2 at Watkins Glen and went on to win his first Cup race. That victory locked Elliott into the playoffs.
His recent performance separates Elliott from the rest of the field and puts his name at the top of list of drivers who will make their way to Homestead with a shot at the championship. Elliott is peaking at the right time.
“I’m ready to put Chase in there,” said Jarrett. “Just take a look at the numbers here. Big improvements have been made. They made some chassis changes at Hendrick Motorsports that all of their drivers now have. And Chase Elliott is certainly showing that he has the performance to make all of this happen.”
Since winning his first stage of 2018 at New Hampshire, Elliott has finished no worse than ninth, which came at Michigan.
“They’re basically trending in the right way where they’re making improvements as they approach the playoffs and that’s not the case for a number of other teams,” Jarrett said. “I really believe that Chase Elliott has put himself in that fourth spot for the time being. If they can continue improving, with him making good decisions – especially on restarts. … If he can to do that, he has a great chance to join the other three … at Homestead.”
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