Chase Elliott felt “shocked” after the Foxwoods Casino Resort 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Prior to Sunday, Elliott had never finished inside the top 10 at New Hampshire. This time Elliott finished fifth after winning the second stage of the race — his first stage win of the season — and led 23 laps.
“I was shocked, to be honest with you, that we ran even that good,” said Elliott. “Our whole NAPA group did a great job overnight. I really have no idea where that came from; I hope it wasn’t dumb luck. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling because it’s really nice to be able to go up there and lead some laps. I know it wasn’t the right part of the race, but still, leading laps for us is big compared to what we’ve been doing.
“I’m proud of the effort. I appreciate everybody’s effort back at Hendrick and the chassis shop and engine shop and Chevrolet and all the folks that are working hard to try to get better. We took a step in the right direction.”
After being 12th in pre-qualifying practice Friday, the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 was 16th and 22nd on the speed charts through Saturday.
Elliott started the race 10th, but the Lap 35 competition caution was when track position began to swing in Elliott’s favor. Among the teams who chose to pit for fresh tires, Elliott lined up 15th for the restart but took advantage of those in front of him. He climbed to second at the end of the stage behind Martin Truex Jr.
With nine top-10 finishes now locked down, Elliott continues to hold steady on the playoff grid. In all, Elliott earned 51 points in New Hampshire to pad his advantage over the cutoff on the playoff grid to 95.
“It was a huge points day for us,” said Elliott. “Obviously, we’d love that win to not have to worry about it. But, we got 19 points between the two stages — that’s 19 positions on-track, and that’s a lot. Anything can happen in these next few weeks and to have all you can get is really important.”