Heading into Sunday’s race, Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. had won seven of the last eight Cup Series races on road courses. That streak extends to eight of nine with Elliott winning his fourth straight in fact.
“Yeah, no, we definitely don’t show up just expecting to be good,” Elliott said. “We show up trying to be better than we were last time. I thought we did that today.
“I thought our car was better than it was here last year. I thought I was better than I was last year. Didn’t pile drive the barriers this time. That was good. Was able to finish it off the right way, which is always encouraging.
“Looking forward to this next round, trying to make some noise.”
They had an up-and-down day. They looked good early too but faded with mistakes after that only to rebound to dual top 10 finishes in the end.
Elliot took the lead on Lap 8 with Truex coming up to second. Unfortunately for them, once the strategy changed for guys electing to pit from wet tires to slicks, it was all downhill.
Elliott, was 20th in Stage 1. Truex, was going to finish fourth but with changing strategies, he came home 27th. In Stage 2, both came back up to finish 2nd (Elliott) and 4th (Truex Jr.). Despite that, Elliott had a loose wheel following his pit stop during that stage break and had to come back down to pit as we were going green. Truex, was speeding.
They’d rebound with their road racing prowess and show why they’re the best on these tracks.
“Hey, as long as the result stays the same, I don’t really care,” Elliott said laughing afterrebounding to win for a second straight year on the ROVAL. “It worked out. We’ll take it for sure. Those bonus points are big, can be a difference maker.
“Like I said, just excited to have some momentum going into the next round. Wins are huge. Too hard to get to get picky with them. Looking forward to the opportunity, trying to make some noise and move on.“
How do you manage that disappointment in the car?
“The end result is the setback. That’s really the bottom line. Blaming or being upset, as much as sometimes you might want to be, it’s really unproductive.
“Looking ahead, those guys weren’t cussing me when I ran through the barrier. I wasn’t going to cuss them for a mistake either. I think we just needed to keep our eyes forward, heads down, focus on trying to get back up front and have a shot to win.“
In terms of how Elliott has improved so much on road courses, he says it’s a number of things.
“I remember going to Bondurant out there as a kid, driving Corvettes. I remember going to Spring Mountain and spending a lot of time with Ron Fellows. Boris Said is a friend. I feel like dad was a really good road racer, too. I felt like there’s small things that he’s talked about over the years that have helped me, too.
“I don’t know. I feel like I’ve had an opportunity to be around some guys who have really good knowledge. If you can just pick things from everybody, try to take small little tidbits there, small little tidbits there, put it into one effort I think it’s helpful.
“I have been fortunate to have some good people to look up to. Still a lot of room for improvement I think on my end, but definitely a good day today. Want to enjoy it.”
Second place finisher, Joey Logano, says Elliott is in his own zip code right now.
“We better find a way,” Logano said of catching Elliott on road courses. “It’s not even close. Whatever they’re doing… I got a good view of it for a while behind him, some things I saw.
“Boy oh boy, I saw cars do the same thing and not go as fast. He’s light-years ahead of everyone, like I said. Like I said, his teammates aren’t even close. It’s crazy to think about whatever it is. Seems like long runs is definitely his strength.
“But, hey, we’re going to have to because plenty of road courses next year. We’re going to have to figure something out because right now he can kind of cruise around. He got out there, managed his gap to me about 20 car lengths ahead of me. I knew that was happening. The harder I pushed, he’d go a little bit faster. Eventually it was really easy for him to pull away the last five laps. That just goes to show how good they are right now.
“I’m not trying to take anything away from them. They deserve all the credit. They are the best at road course racing right now by a lot. We got to work that out.”