First, the good news for Chase Elliott: He leads all drivers with a Cup Series-high five wins in 2022. The bad news? He hasn’t performed at a championship level throughout most of the playoffs. In fact, in nine playoff races, the Hendrick Motorsports driver and 2020 Cup Series champion has recorded just two top-five finishes – the most recent of them being his Round of 8-clinching win at Talladega. But outside of those two races, Elliott’s best playoff finish is 10th – where he came home this past Sunday at Martinsville. Outside of that, the second-generation driver’s last four races have yielded finishes of 14th, 21st and 20th, respectively.
If Elliott is to leave Phoenix this weekend with his second Cup title in three years, he knows he and his No. 9 team will have to do better than they have in recent weeks. But he also knows that based on his performance in the regular season – when he won four races and captured the regular season title in comfortable fashion – he’s certainly capable of rising to the occasion and getting the job done at Phoenix. The only question is if he will. At least outwardly, he is projecting confidence heading into the biggest race of the season and one of the biggest races of his life.
“We have a shot at the championship next week, and that’s a big deal,” said Elliott, who looks to surpass his NASCAR Hall of Fame father, Bill, in becoming a two-time champion of NASCAR’s premier series. “We’ll be ready.”