- Chase Elliott qualified 23rd for Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway.
- The 27-year-old finished the first stage in the 12th position before successfully avoiding a multi-car incident on the last lap of stage two to secure a seventh-place result.
- Following a late-race caution that led to overtime, Elliott crossed the finish line in fourth place.
- Despite not making 2023 Cup Series driver playoffs, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native played a crucial role in helping the No. 9 team secure the 16th and final spot in the owner playoffs.
Chase Elliott entered the weekend at Daytona International Speedway needing to win the regular-season finale to secure his place in the NASCAR Cup Series driver playoffs. After qualifying 23rd on Friday evening, Elliott knew he needed to move towards the front to establish his LLumar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 as a strong contender once the green flag dropped on Saturday. By lap five, he had navigated his way into the top 20 and continued his climb from there. When the green-and-white checkered flag waved at lap 35 to end the first stage, he was in 12th position.
During the stage break, crew chief Alan Gustafson called Elliott to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. A quick pit stop by the No. 9 crew helped the 2020 Cup Series champion secure a top-10 starting position for the second stage. Elliott was ninth to choose and took the top lane. He charged forward, moving to second by lap 46. He continued to race within the top five and worked his way to the lead on lap 50, holding off three lanes of cars behind him. After two laps, another lane prevailed, but Elliott continued to lead the bottom lane until the racing got dicey, prompting him to drop back. He remained inside the top 15 and once again made moves towards the front, reaching as high as fourth. Elliott was racing near the 10th position when green-flag pit stops began on lap 82. Gustafson radioed Elliott to pit road on lap 85 for a fuel-only stop. Back on the track, the driver of the No. 9 was scored in 27th and steadily improved his position to 12th in the closing laps of the stage. On the final lap of stage two, contact between cars at the front of the field triggered a multi-car incident. Elliott successfully navigated his way through the chaos to claim a seventh-place result on lap 95.
After a brief red flag, teams made their way to pit road during the stage-ending caution. The No. 9 crew equipped Elliott’s Chevrolet with four tires and filled its tank with fuel. The native of Dawsonville, Georgia, chose ninth and took the top lane for the lap-104 restart. After briefly dropping back to 21st on lap 115, Elliott executed power moves to re-enter the top 10. As the field settled into single file for several laps, Elliott maintained seventh place until racing shifted back to two lanes on lap 141. Just three laps later, teams began making their way to pit road for the final green-flag stops of the race. Elliott pitted for fuel only on lap 147 and returned to the track in second. Racing intensified as the laps wound down, and a caution emerged on lap 156 due to a multi-car incident with Elliott in fourth place. The late caution set the race up for overtime. The Hendrick Motorsports driver lined up on the inside of the second row for the restart and gave his all, ultimately taking the checkered flag in fourth position.
While Elliott fell short of securing his place in the Cup Series driver playoffs, he and the No. 9 team earned the final playoff spot for the owner championship.
“I feel like we had an OK chance there, but Brad (Keselowski) and the No. 17 (Chris Buescher) just worked so well together there and they were able to stay locked on,” Elliott said. “They just had a stranglehold on the top lane. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get to Kevin (Harvick) and stay there like that and make the bottom lane work. I kind of bottled it up there and just couldn’t get enough momentum going forward.
“It was a valiant effort and I appreciate the effort from everybody – from the No. 9 team, Team Chevy, Hendrick Motorsports. I thought we all worked really well together tonight. Obviously, we came up a little short, but nonetheless proud to get the car into the owner championship. It’s a big deal to get in on the owner side, so hopefully we’ll try and go make some noise on that front. Just keep progressing and pushing to be better for next year. We’ll be better through all of this down the road.”
Start / Finish: 23 / 4
Points Standing / Total: 20th / 526 pts.
Next Race: Sunday, Sept. 3, Darlington Raceway
How to Watch or Listen: 6:00 p.m. ET on USA, 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.