Chase Elliott says there is no additional pressure on him to carry the Chevrolet banner into the championship discussion.
Behind the dominance of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyotas and Team Penske’s Fords, Elliott is the only Chevrolet driver to have won a NASCAR Cup Series race this season. Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports Camaro emerged on top as the Chevrolets took charge at Talladega Superspeedway in April, claiming four of the top-five spots and six of the top-10.
“Any time you can win is good, and [winning] certainly helps,” Elliott said. “I feel like we’ve been a good bit better than this time last year. We’ve certainly struggled some weeks, too.
“But, no, there’s really no extra pressure on me or anybody. We all want to do good. We don’t want to see those [Gibbs and Penske] guys win every other week. I don’t like it. But it doesn’t mean I’m not trying or anybody is not trying. That’s just part of it right now. I’ve watched this deal for a long time and things kind of go up and down. You ride the roller coaster where it’s at. We’re going to ride it where we are right now, and I have confidence that one day it will turn around for us, too.”
Seventh in the championship standings, Elliott is the second-highest-placed driver who doesn’t work for Gibbs or Penske. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing) is the best at third.
With an 11.6 average finish and over 400 laps led, Elliott hasn’t been far off those ahead of him. The problem is that two organizations have been head and shoulders above the rest, and that has led to domination in many categories, including victories. Joe Gibbs’ drivers have won 10 times; Roger Penske’s have pulled in five wins.
Naturally, much of the season’s conversation has centered around those teams and their in-house rivalries. Within the Hendrick camp, Elliott leads his teammates who sit 10th (Alex Bowman), 14th (William Byron), and 17th (Jimmie Johnson) in the standings heading into tomorrow’s Camping World 400 at Chicagoland. And while the same competitive intensity may not be seen from them right now, Elliott said it could if things continue to improve.
“You always want to outrun everybody, and your teammates are always included in that,” he said. “At the same time, when we’re all running better as a group it’s benefitting all of us. Sometimes it’s hard to realize that in the moment, but that is certainly the case.
“It’s an easy storyline for [the Gibbs and Penske] guys because they’re finishing first and second a lot. That’s great for them, and I’m sure that’s a great situation to be in.
“If that was the case for us, I’m sure it would be driving the guy who finished second more to want to outrun the guy who won. Those are the kinds of things you want within an organization.
“They’re lucky to have a good thing going right now,” Elliott added. “I think we can have the same thing. We’ve just got to keep pushing.”