- Chase Elliott qualified eighth for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.
- The 2020 Cup Series champion earned a seventh-place finish in stage one and took the stage two victory.
- In the final stage, Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team overcame a punctured right-rear tire to earn a ninth-place result in the 109-lap race.
- The No. 9 team advanced to the Round of 8 in the owner playoffs. After the points reset, the No. 9 team is eighth in the standings.
Chase Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team started eighth in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. Elliott’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 showed speed from the drop of the green flag. By lap three, he made the pass for seventh and radioed to his team that he liked his NAPA Chevrolet’s balance. Elliott was up to sixth when teams started making green-flag pit stops ahead of the end of the stage. Crew chief Alan Gustafson called Elliott to pit road on lap 21 for four tires and fuel. When the green-and-white checkered flag waved to end stage one at lap 25, the 2020 Cup Series champion was scored in seventh.
Staying out under the stage-ending caution, Elliott took the green flag for the second stage from the third position on lap 29. He improved to second on lap 30 and made a pass for the lead on lap 36. Elliott was still out front when some teams started to make green-flag pit stops on lap 44. The 27-year-old driver was planning to make a scheduled stop a few laps later. Just before Elliott made his way to pit road an incident brought out the caution flag, forcing the team to alter its strategy. Stage two ended under the yellow flag with Elliott scoring the stage win.
Gustafson called Elliott to pit road during the stage break for fuel and four fresh tires. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native lined up in the 26th position to start the final stage. Elliott remained undeterred despite being mired deep in the field. He was back inside the top 20 by lap 57 and was running in 17th when he radioed to the team that he thought he had a tire going down. Elliott brought the NAPA Chevrolet to the attention of his crew for four tires and fuel on lap 66 and got back out on the track in 35th. He was correct in his assessment as the right-rear tire proved to have a puncture.
Just a few laps later, the fuel window opened for teams to make their final pit stops of the race. As several teams came to pit road, Elliott remained on the track and was scored in 10th when a caution came out with 34 laps to go. Knowing they wouldn’t be able to make it the rest of the way on fuel if the race went green, Elliott and the No. 9 team made the call to pit for four tires and fuel. The driver of the NAPA Chevrolet restarted in 27th with 31 laps to go and only improved his position from there. After a series of cautions, Elliott rejoined the top 20 and was up to 12th when an incident slowed the race with only 15 laps remaining. He restarted in 12th and gained another spot before the final caution of the race came out with 13 laps to go. Elliott was scored in 11th for the restart and gained two positions in the closing laps to earn a ninth-place finish in the 109-lap Cup Series event.
Elliott now has six top-10s in his last seven races. His 15 laps led on Sunday put Elliott at over 5,000 circuits out front in his Cup Series career. The strong finish helped the No. 9 team advance to the Round of 8 in the owner playoffs. The team enters the round as the eighth seed, 19 points below the elimination line to advance to the Championship 4.
“I’m really proud of the effort our NAPA team gave today,” Elliott said. “We had a Chevrolet capable of winning, but it’s just so hard to get back to the front when you lose track position here. To be able to walk away with a top-10 finish and get the team into the next round of the owner playoffs is a big deal. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do next week in Las Vegas.”
Start / Finish: 8 / 9
Points Standing / Total: 17th / 752 pts. (-3289)
Next Race: Sunday, October 15, Las Vegas Motor Speedway
How to Watch or Listen: 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN 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.