Chase Elliott has been NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for three years now. He’s coming off of a championship a season ago and is hoping to keep scratching items off his to do list. Obviously one of them is to win the Daytona 500. Another big one for Elliott is to win on his home track in Atlanta. That’s something his dad did five times. Elliott, is currently 0-for-5 in Cup. Can he get an Atlanta win in his sixth start on Sunday?
“I would love to have a win at Atlanta,” Elliott said of his hometrack. “I feel like anyone’s home track you want to have a win at for sure. I would love to go and have a good run in Atlanta. It’s always going to be a special place for me. I’ve spent a lot of time racing legends cars down there so for sure I’d love to go and have a good run.”
Elliott also notes though that while he’d love to get a win in his home state, he’d just like to win anywhere too.
“I’m not super picky when it comes to a win,” Elliott continued. “I’m good with wherever. A win would be great though. I would love to get that done one day and be able to have one there for sure.”
He’s had a top 10 in four of his previous five tries including an eighth place run a year ago. It’s just that he’s only had one top five finish in those five starts too. What has he been missing there? They hope that they can figure that out and put his No. 9 Chevrolet in victory lane on Sunday afternoon.
“Frankly, I really don’t know why,” Elliott said. “We’ve gone there and had some really good runs, a couple days where I thought we were capable of winning. And then, we’ve been there and been way out to lunch.
“I’m not exactly sure what that is all the time. Obviously, car configurations and rules and different packages play a role in it. Hopefully, this week, we can be more on the ‘hit’ side and execute a good race. Definitely have to have a good race to give yourself a shot to win.”
Elliott, nearly won the Daytona 500 back in February with a runner-up result. A week later, he nearly won on the Daytona road course as he dominated most of the afternoon before a late race caution derailed those plans. He was only 14th and 13th respectively at Homestead and Vegas before rebounding to a fifth place result last Sunday in Phoenix. That has him ninth in the playoff standings (+69) at the moment.
“I think we could have improved last year too,” Elliott said. We were really bad at Homestead there this year which last year Homestead was one I guess was kind of interesting. We had the best run that we’ve ever had at Homestead last year. So I was really excited to get there and that one was a struggle. I’m not really sure about that.
“It’s just so hard to predict with just how close everybody is now a days in the garage. Just how good these teams bringing that next upgrade the next week and trying to get better. It’s close it’s tight. A little bit goes a long way when you’re fighting for literally tenths of a second. A half a tenth can go a long ways so that’s just the world we live in.”
HMS has been vastly improved in 2021 and appear to be back. That’s all part in how well they’re all working together with one another Elliott feels. He says it’s an exciting place to be right now with how many talented people that are there and pushing really hard, working well together.
“I do feel like everybody is – I don’t want to say sharing information, because we’ve always done that but just working together a little more from all aspects,” said Elliott. “You might have some people that work really good together and other people don’t. I feel like right now, it’s super fluid. Everybody’s open about anything and everything, and I feel like it’s showing on track.
“Beyond that, I really feel it’s just fundamental upgrades – things that are important on track being improved upon in the shop, and I think each car is benefitting from it.”
Elliott singled out Chad Knaus and says that his new role as the vice president of competition, is also a big help for HMS. Elliott notes that Knaus is working to get better cars in the hands of its crew chiefs before heading to the track.
“I think Chad has had a big impact in having that car show up in a manner that particular crew chief wants it to be in before he sees it for the first time,” he said. “That makes a big difference.”