NASCAR Cup Series

Chase Elliott is Feeling Comfortable at ISM Raceway

AVONDALE, Arizona — When the green flag waves atop the LED-lit cactus flag stand for the Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway, Chase Elliott will begin the race in an insurmountable 78-point hole. The product of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott is indeed in a win-only scenario as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes its stop at the 1.5-mile speedway.

Elliott has been able to overcome adversity with ease in both the Round of 16 and the Round of 12. Now the racing prodigy is faced with one last ditch effort in which he will be forced to ascend to champion-caliber heights in order to make a statement and advance to Homestead.

The 23-year old driver elaborated on his team’s ability to execute – specifically at Kansas Speedway in the final race in the Round of 12.

“We had some good fortune at Kansas,” Elliott told POPULAR SPEED. “I feel like we were in a position where we had to win that race and we were in a position to battle for a win – obviously we didn’t win – but things went our way enough to get through the round. I think for me that was a good opportunity for us to have our backs up against the wall and having to go out there and perform.”

The driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy Camaro went on to discuss how he and his team was able to capitalize on pivotal moments late in the race.

“We made the most of an afternoon that really wasn’t going all that well,” said the Hendrick Motorsports driver. “We were struggling on the long run and lost a lot of ground, but we made a lot of great pit stops towards the end and had good restarts which put us in a position to win and that’s what you have to do.”

While being put in these difficult situations is obviously not the preferred race weekend for Elliott, he firmly believes that being dealt with these trials is essential for breeding a champion in NASCAR. After all, these scenarios are bound to come to fruition should a driver advance to the series finale.

“I just think that being put in that position was a good experience and whether you’re in a position where you have to win now or two weeks ago, you’re going to have to be in that position at Homestead (-Miami Speedway),” said the Georgia-native. “I think being comfortable with that is a necessity with the way this format is. When your back’s up against the wall, you have to perform and I think the better you feel about that situation and the more you embrace it, the better off you’ll be. As a team we’ve embraced it and I’m really looking forward to the weekend.”

This is the third-consecutive season where Elliott finds himself in Round of 8. In his fourth season of full-time racing, has he proven himself to be capable of competing with the best of the best in the championship race in Miami? The calm and collected driver seems more poised than ever to get it done at ISM Raceway.

“We’re going to go out there, do our thing and have fun,” Elliott concluded.



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By Cole Cusumano

Cole Cusumano is currently attending The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication for a degree in sports journalism. In addition to providing content for POPULAR SPEED, he worked for Pit Notes at ISM Raceway. He is also currently writing for the school's magazine "The Cronkite Journal", which is affiliated with Arizona PBS. Cole was born and raised in Staten Island, N.Y. but has been living in Arizona for 13 years.