Chase Elliott ‘not concerned’ about winless start to season


Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott is winless through this season’s first eight races.

Time to sound the alarm? Hardly.

“No, I’m not concerned with it,” Elliott said on the subject Wednesday in a media teleconference. “I would love to win, for sure, before now. But at the same time, I feel like we have a great team. I feel like I’m in a good place.

“I don’t feel any different today than I did approaching the end of the season last year. We just have to continue to push and work hard to focus on what makes us go fast and what makes me comfortable behind the wheel.”

MORE: Chase Elliott at No. 9 in this week’s Power Rankings

Elliott isn’t the only winless big star as the series heads to Richmond Raceway (3 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox). Fellow champions Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, as well as regular season points leader Denny Hamlin, are in the same situation.

However, compared to this point last season, Elliott’s overall performance has tailed off somewhat.

Through the first eight races of 2020 – a stretch with a two-month pause due to the coronavirus pandemic – Elliott picked up a win at Charlotte Motor Speedway and four top-five finishes. He was ranked first in green flag speed, as well as third in both average running position (8.2) and laps led (280).

Through the first eight races of 2021, Elliott has three top fives, including a runner-up last week at Martinsville Speedway. He’s ranked ninth in both green flag speed, sixth in average running position (10.7), and ninth in laps led with only 73.

Elliott acknowledged the up-and-down start to this season, which has included a victory getting away from him at the Daytona road course and an engine failure at Atlanta. But he insists that the off days are motivating him and his team.

“We’ve had pace at certain times this year that I feel like was good enough to contend for a win,” Elliott said. “We’ve also had races where we were really bad and didn’t have pace. But that’s racing and that’s part of it, right? Those tough days and slow races push you to want to be better.

“… We all want to win, but I feel no different today than I did at the end of last year and the results were just fine then. So, I know we can achieve it. I know we can go out there and accomplish our goals. And we believe that as a team. Outside of that, it really just doesn’t matter.”

While Elliott isn’t worried about being winless right now, he knows how vital wins and the playoff points that come with them are.

He said that playoff points “however you get them, are the most important thing.” So far, he only has one, from a stage win at the Daytona road course. Martin Truex Jr., last week’s winner at Martinsville, leads all drivers with 11.

Can Elliott bank some more this weekend at Richmond? The 3/4-mile track hasn’t been a historically strong track for him. While he has three top-five finishes in 10 Cup starts there, he’s only led a total of 36 laps.

In Elliott’s eyes, the “straightforward” driving style at Richmond belies another challenge.

“What makes it really hard there is to just be different,” he said. “Everyone is doing the exact same thing. Obviously, you have to have your car balance really good there and it has to be perfect. You’re riding that really razor-thin edge much like you do at Martinsville.

“…Martinsville is different, where guys really attack that race track differently. Whereas at Richmond, I feel like everyone is just in the exact same boat and it’s hard to be different. I think that’s what makes that place tough.”

COTA Truck starting lineup: Ross Chastain wins pole


Ross Chastain will start on the pole for Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

Chastain earned the top starting spot in Friday’s qualifying with a lap of 91.877 mph. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (91.490 mph).

More: COTA Truck starting lineup

Ty Majeski qualified third with a lap of 91.225 mph. Rookie Nick Sanchez (90.993) will start fourth, and Christian Eckes (90.937) will complete the top five.

Alex Bowman failed to make the race. Bowman had a flat right front on his qualifying lap.

Tyler Reddick leads Cup practice at COTA


Tyler Reddick posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Cup practice at Circuit of the Americas.

Reddick, who won two road course races last season, topped the field in his 23XI Racing Toyota with a lap of 92.989 mph. Kyle Larson was next, posting a lap of 92.618 mph around the 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Cup practice results

Ross Chastain, who won this race a year ago, was third on the speed chart in practice with a lap of 92.520 mph. He was followed by Kyle Busch (92.498 mph) and Daniel Suarez (92.461 mph).

Jordan Taylor, subbing for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, was 10th on the speed chart in practice after a lap of 92.404 mph.

Former world champion Jenson Button, driving for Rick Ware Racing, was 28th in practice with a lap of 91.759 mph. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, driving the Project 91 car for Trackhouse Racing, was 32nd in practice after a lap of 91.413 mph.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, driving in his first race for Legacy Motor Club since the Daytona 500, was 36th in practice after a lap of 91.072 mph. IndyCar driver Conor Daly was last among the 39 cars in practice with a lap of 90.095 mph.

Cup qualifying is Saturday. The series races Sunday.


Saturday COTA Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


Austin Hill, the dominant driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series through the early weeks of the season, will be looking for his first Xfinity road course win Saturday.

Hill has won three of the season’s first five races, scoring victories at Daytona, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Hill has been close in previous road course runs. He has a second at COTA, a third at Portland, a fourth at Road America and a ninth at Indianapolis.

MORE: Dr. Diandra takes a look at top Cup road course drivers

Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger own wins in the previous Xfinity races at COTA.

Allmendinger and three other Cup Series regulars — Aric Almirola, William Byron and Ty Gibbs — are scheduled to race in the Xfinity event.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 5:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled at 5:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 2 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Jordan Thiessen of Pit Boss Grills at 5 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by recording artist Payton Keller at 5:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 46 laps (156 miles) on the 3.41-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 14. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 5 p.m. … NASCAR RaceDay airs at 4 p.m. on FS1. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and can be heard at …SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. Temperature of 82 at race time. No chance of rain.

LAST TIME: AJ Allmendinger won last March’s Xfinity race at COTA. Austin Hill was two seconds behind in second place. Cole Custer finished third.

NASCAR Friday schedule at Circuit of the Americas


NASCAR’s new Cup Series aerodynamic package for short tracks and road courses will be tested in competition on a road circuit for the first time this weekend as the tour stops at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

All three major national series will be in action at the 3.41-mile, 20-turn track this weekend. The schedule begins Friday with practice for all three series and qualifying for Xfinity and Trucks.

MORE: Drivers say North Wilkesboro’s worn surface will be challenging

The Friday practice was added for Cup teams because of the new competition package, providing 50 minutes of on-track time for adjustments. Teams also will be racing with a new tire compound this weekend.

Chase Elliott (2021) and Ross Chastain (2022) are winners from the previous Cup races at COTA. Elliott won the inaugural event in a race shortened by rain, and Chastain won after a last-lap battle with AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman. The victory was Chastain’s first in the series.

A look at Friday’s schedule:

Circuit of the Americas (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Friday: Thunderstorms in the morning. Mostly sunny later. High of 87 with an 80% chance of rain.

Friday, March 24

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 11:30 a.m. .- 6:30 p.m. — Truck Series
  • 1:30 – 8:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 2:05 – 2:55 p.m. — Cup practice (No live broadcast; tape-delayed version airing at 8 p.m. on FS1)
  • 4:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck practice (No live broadcast)
  • 5 – 6 p.m. — Truck qualifying (No live broadcast; tape-delayed version airing at 9 p.m. on FS1)
  • 6:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 7 – 8 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (FS1)