- Chase Elliott qualified 14th for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway. The team entered the weekend in a must-win situation to advance to the Championship 4 in the owner playoffs.
- Elliott finished stage one in 13th and stage two in 15th. During the final stage, crew chief Alan Gustafson made a strategy call to have Elliott stay out during a caution, allowing Elliott to restart from the front row. He powered to the lead and stayed out front for a total of 83 laps.
- The team’s strategy required one more caution to be able to pit for fuel. Unfortunately, the caution never came out and Elliott was forced to pit under the green flag with less than 15 laps to go. He ended the race in 17th.
Chase Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team entered the race weekend at Martinsville Speedway in a must-win situation to advance to the Championship 4 in the owner playoffs. The 27-year-old driver qualified 14th for the 500-lap race. When the green flag dropped on Sunday, Elliott had momentum on the outside lane and powered his way to 11th. He was running in that same position when the first caution of the race came out on lap 105. Under the yellow, he reported to crew chief Alan Gustafson that his No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1’s compressed turn was nice, and the exit went away first and then entry followed. Gustafson called Elliott to pit road for four tires and fuel. He restarted from the 11th position on lap 111 and ended stage one in 13th.
After the team opted not to pit during the stage break, Elliott lined up in 10th to start stage two on lap 140. He initially increased his position to ninth and continued to hold strong inside the top 10 until dropping to 11th on lap 172. When the caution came out on lap 216, the 2020 Cup Series champion reported to his team that his NAPA Chevrolet was tight to start that run. He brought the No. 9 to the attention of his pit crew for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Elliott restarted in the 13th position on lap 225 and continued to run inside the top 15, taking the green-and-white checkered flag in 15th to end the second stage on lap 260.
Under the stage-ending caution, Elliott radioed to Gustafson that his NAPA Chevrolet was tight through the center of the turns. Continuing to fine-tune the handling on the No. 9, the team made another chassis adjustment during its pit stop for four tires and fuel. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native started the final stage from the 20th position on lap 270 and was scored in 14th when an on-track incident brought out the caution on lap 273. Opting to stay out, Elliott restarted in 14th and had dropped back to 18th before another yellow flag was displayed at lap 304. After pitting for right-side tires and fuel, he took the green flag from the 18th position. Elliott lost a few spots early in the run but rallied back to 19th before the race fell under caution on lap 324. While a majority of the field opted to pit, Gustafson made the call for Elliott to stay out on the track to gain track position. Elliott led the field to the green for the restart and battled side-by-side with the No. 7 for the lead before taking it over on lap 335. He continued to hold point until lap 412. For the team’s strategy to work out, they would need a caution to pit one more time for fuel. Unfortunately, the rest of the race went caution-free and Elliott was forced to pit from the fifth position on lap 489. After a fast stop by the crew, Elliott made back out on the track to rebound for a 17th-place finish.
“Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made a great call that got us track position,” Elliott said. “We just didn’t get the caution we needed at the end for it to work out. I hate that we didn’t get the car into the owner championship, but proud of the effort this entire NAPA team put in throughout the playoffs.”
Start / Finish: 14 / 17
Points Standing / Total: 17th / 799 (-4,201)
Next Race: Sunday, November 5, Phoenix Raceway
How to Watch or Listen: 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN or SiriusXM
Founded by Rick Hendrick in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports is the winningest team in NASCAR Cup Series history. At the sport’s premier level, the organization holds the all-time records in every major statistical category, including championships (14), points-paying race victories (291) and laps led (over 77,000). Headquartered in Concord, North Carolina, the team fields four full-time entries in the NASCAR Cup Series, including the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driven by 2020 champion Chase Elliott.