Although they are outside a transfer spot to the championship race, Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. both say they’re not focusing on their points deficit heading into Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
That could be a good thing since Texas Motor Speedway isn’t the best track for either driver.
Elliott enters the Cup playoff race eight points behind Brad Keselowski for the final transfer position.
“I feel like I’ve really worried about the points situation less this year than I ever have before,” Elliott said. “It matters, don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t care. It does matter, but I just think the more that you understand that winning is paramount and that’s the only guarantee that moves you on. And also, realizing that if you make the final four, you’re going to have to go win that last race.
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“So, I’m just really a big believer in feeling comfortable in that moment and just trying to thrive in the situation of having to win, and I think that’s how we need to treat these last two races in this round. Ultimately, if you’re not winning races at this level, you’re not going to win the championship anyways. So, that’s how we have to approach it and I feel good about that.”
Truex enters the Cup playoff race 31 points behind Keselowski for that final transfer spot.
“Obviously, we came into the playoffs without a lot of bonus points that typically we are used to having, and that’s made it a little bit of a challenge,” Truex said. “But again, definitely didn’t run as good as we hoped to in Kansas. We lost a little bit there. We’ve got to make it happen. We’ve got two weeks to do it. Our approach is to just do the best job that we can do and hopefully, we can get it done.”
Before Truex and Elliott can think about next week’s race at Martinsville — where Truex has won the past two races and Elliott finished second in March 2019 — they’ll have to get through the challenges at Texas.
Elliott has one top-10 finish in his last five Texas starts.
“To be honest, I feel like I’ve had my struggles on both ends of the racetrack,” he said. “I don’t know that it has as much to do with the banking re-configurations. Maybe, just the fresh asphalt. I don’t really know exactly what it is. (Turns) 1 and 2 have certainly been a struggle, but we’ve had our problems at the other end of the racetrack, too.
“So, I guess the combination between that and the track surface being new, Goodyear having to bring a really hard tire – something in that whole realm of change has not suited me well in the past, unfortunately. I think for me, just focused on trying to look forward and not bring those bad vibes to Texas this weekend I think is a big piece of improving. Just having a better mindset and looking forward to another opportunity there.”
Truex is winless in 30 career starts at Texas. He has two top 10s in his last five Texas starts.
“We were really strong in the (July) Texas race,” he said. “Feeling like the last two seasons or whatever we’ve been off at Texas and have had some struggles. We went there this (July) and felt really good about things. I thought we had a shot at it, and we ended up getting crashed on a restart. Optimistic about it. I think James (Small, crew chief) feels good about it.”