Chase Elliott's first 2022 playoff win is a timely one

Chase Elliott’s first playoff victory of the 2022 season may have been the most difficult to obtain but it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Listen to this article

Entering this past weekend’s Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, no playoff driver had yet secured a win in the first four playoff races.

Talladega didn’t appear to be a prime candidate for that streak to end as its typical unpredictable nature leaves it prone to produce new or unexpected winners.

Elliott, however, ended up mastering the chaos in a race featuring 57 lead changes among 17 drivers and out-dueled Ryan Blaney on the last lap to earn his fifth victory of the year.

Blaney had led the way on the final restart with two of 188 laps to go and still remained out front starting the final lap.

Just enough at the line

As the field came off Turn 4, Blaney was on the inside with Michael McDowell behind him, while Elliott ran up top with Erik Jones behind him.

Jones gave Elliott a shove to push him past Blaney for the lead and those two ended up racing side-by-side to the checkered flag with Elliott winning by a scant 0.046 seconds.

“Just felt like when we took the green for the restart, I thought my opportunity to win was to get up in the top lane. It was certainly a risky move,” Elliott, 26, said. “I felt like we had accumulated a decent number of stage points throughout the day, so it made me feel a little bit better about moving up there, trying to give myself a shot to win.

“I just didn’t think I was going to be able to win from the third lane, the bottom row, with that few laps left. I just thought that was my shot.”

Locked in

It was quite a turnaround for a driver who had wrecked out of the first race of the first two rounds of the playoffs and it came with a big reward.

The win automatically sends Elliott into the semifinal round of the playoffs regardless of how he finishes at this weekend’s race at the Charlotte Roval.

Giving Elliott free reign on the Roval – where he’s won two of the four races in its history – provides him and his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team a golden opportunity to add additional playoff points from stage wins or even another race victory.

Elliott may finally be enjoying the benefits of being one of the most consistent performers in what has been a very tumultuous season of racing.

“I feel like I’ve been doing this long enough now to understand the roller coaster that is racing. It’s going to roll on, right?” the 2020 series champion said. “You either learn to ride it during the good days, during the bad days, too, or you don’t. That’s just part of the deal.

“So, yeah, just try to ride the wave. Had a bad week last week, had a good week this week. Obviously, great to move on into the next round, get six more bonus points. All those things are fantastic, we’re super proud of that.”

Elliott also recognizes this season’s playoffs have so far offered no guarantees.

“This deal can humble you. We can go to the Round of 8 and crash again like we did the first two rounds, or you can go in there and maybe have a really good first race,” he said.

“I don’t know. You show up prepared, do the best you can, figure it out from there.”

shares
comments

Related video

Blaney reflects on bittersweet result at Talladega
Previous article

Blaney reflects on bittersweet result at Talladega

Next article

Cody Ware to skip Roval as he recovers from ankle injury

Cody Ware to skip Roval as he recovers from ankle injury
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021