With a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory finally in hand, Chase Elliott says he’s entering a weekend with more confidence than ever before.
“I definitely feel a lot of relief to have finally won a race after being so close so many times,” Elliott said. “That doesn’t mean things are going to get any easier, but I think a lot of relief for myself and my team, so I’m excited to see where we go moving forward. Whether it gets better or worse, I don’t know, but I feel good about it. That’s all that matters.”
Elliott scored his first career win in his 99th start last weekend at the Watkins Glen road course. Sunday afternoon will be Elliott’s milestone 100th start in the series, and it comes at a track that statistically is his best – Michigan International Speedway.
In five Cup starts at Michigan, Elliott has a 4.6 average finish and 66 laps led with three top-five finishes. Three of those results are second-place finishes, as Elliott came close to scoring that elusive win either at Michigan or elsewhere many times before Aug. 5.
Eight times Elliott finished second before winning. And during those times when the Hendrick Motorsports driver came close, or racing circumstances were harsh to him, Elliott often beat himself up and took things hard. Since his early days in racing, Elliott has always been hard on himself — sometimes too hard, others would say.
Asked to look back on those times now that he’s a winner, Elliott said he has dealt with things the way he feels is right.
“Whether that’s good or bad, that’s not for y’all to decide, that’s for me to decide, and I think I’ve dealt with things fine,” Elliott said. “You have to believe in what you do and how you go about things, so I feel like I’ve approached things well. Have I been perfect? No. Could I have done a better job? Yes. I think the days you have more control over the result are the days I’m more frustrated, and I’ve expressed that. You guys know that. So, I wouldn’t change anything.
“I would love to reverse a few of those finishes over the past couple of years, but really, it makes you appreciate them a heck of a lot more. I know I appreciated this past week more because of my past couple of seasons than I would have if we had come here [Michigan] and won this race in 2016. That’s just the facts. Whether you want to believe them or not.
“Not to say I wouldn’t have loved to have won that race in ’16 or won a race in ’16 or ’17, but they make you appreciate it more because they’re not easy to get. But as you move forward, they don’t get any easier.”