Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.

Last Chance for 2023: How Did Chase Elliott Get Here?

Article Contents

Aluma Trailers

In This Article

Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts
Aluma Trailers

Let us know what you think

Join the conversation on socials

Chase Elliott went from a Championship pick by many at the start of the season to being on the verge of missing the Playoffs heading into Daytona this weekend. How did Chase Elliott get to this point in his season?

March 3rd: Skiing Injury

After a forgettable Daytona 500, Chase Elliott finished a solid second at Auto Club Speedway. It seemed that he was going to have another Chase Elliott-like season, but disaster struck. While on a skiing trip, Elliott broke his tibia in an accident.

As a result, he missed six races, and that put Elliott likely in must-win territory to make the Playoffs. Certainly not an ideal scenario, but, with 18 races still until the Playoffs, a win seemed more than attainable. Especially given that Elliott has won at least two races per season since 2018. However, points were not totally out of the question given his performance.

Martinsville through Darlington: The Return and Resurgence

Elliott made his return at Martinsville, and he would record three top-10 finishes in the next five races with a best finish of third at Darlington. After Darlington, Elliott was 28th in the points, but he was only 63 points behind the final Playoff spot. While very unlikely and very difficult, it was not impossible.

Elliott was 133 points behind heading into his first race back at Martinsville. At that pace, he would easily be in a position to point his way into the Playoffs as long as he stayed consistent. With drivers like Kyle Larson and William Byron in the same stable winning races, it seemed like Elliott would do that. Then Charlotte happened.

Charlotte: Denny Hamlin Incident and Suspension

Chase Elliott right-hooked Denny Hamlin into the wall at Charlotte after contact off of turn four. NASCAR deemed that the wreck was intentional, and they hit Elliott with a one-race suspension. This was a major blow to Elliott, and it was totally self-inflicted.

Not only was he relegated to 34th place scoring only three points at Charlotte, but he was also missing another race at Gateway. As a result, he fell to 98 points out of the Playoffs. With only 11 races left, it was still possible to point his way into the Playoffs, but it was much harder. However, Elliott ran well over the next few races.

Sonoma Through Chicago: Another Resurgence

After coming back from his suspension at Sonoma, Elliott rattled off three straight top-5 finishes. He lowered his deficit in three races by 43 points from 98 down to 55. If he kept that pace up, then he could definitely point his way into the Playoffs with eight races still to go.

He also had plenty of race tracks coming up that were good fits for him. He won at Atlanta in July of 2022, and there were two road courses that were right in his wheelhouse. However, Elliott just did not perform in the coming weeks.

Atlanta Through Watkins Glen: Missed Opportunities

For the four races from Atlanta through Richmond, Elliott had only one top-10 finish, a 10th at Pocono. He was 21st in points, 48 points out of the Playoffs with only four races to go. At Michigan, he crashed and finished 36th out of 37 cars.

At this point, it was all about winning, and Elliott has borderline winning speed at Indianapolis. However, Michael McDowell won at Indy, and Elliott followed that up with a poor 15th-place qualifying effort at Watkins Glen. In desperation, crew chief Alan Gustafson tried a radical strategy of staying out as long as he could on fuel for the second stint, and a miscalculation caused Elliott to run out of fuel.

That was it, and now, Elliott is in must-win territory. It’s far more than just one event or moment that put Elliott here. It was multiple circumstances, both self-inflicted and not self-inflicted. It was multiple missed opportunities throughout the course of a season, and that is why all eyes are on Chase this weekend at Daytona.

Share this:

Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts