After winning the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway to end the NASCAR Cup Series Round of Eight playoffs, Dawsonville native Chase Elliott is one race away from bringing home the coveted Cup Series Championship trophy at just 24.
This last race is simple. No points to configure and no teammates to worry about. All you have to do is be the first of four championship drivers to cross the finish line.
Elliott has never won at Phoenix Raceway. However, he has finished in the top five twice in nine attempts. But, Elliott has less experience at Phoenix than his three opponents do.
Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have both been racing since 2009 and Denny Hamlin since 2005. Elliott started his Cup Series career in 2016. Logano and Hamlin have both won twice at Phoenix in their career.
Though Elliott might seem like the dark horse in this race, he commented in his post race press conference after the Martinsville win that his team enjoys racing with their backs against the wall.
“Just so proud to be able to be backed into a corner like that and win tonight,” Elliott said. “I feel like that’s what we’ve been missing these past four or five years to perform when we don’t have a choice.”
His career average finish of 13th place at Phoenix is second best amongst playoff drivers, only behind Hamlin’s 11th place average finish. Elliott also had the second best finish out of the Championship 4 when the Cup Series ran at Phoenix in March 2020. Logano won the race, but Elliott finished in seventh place.
Elliott’s victory at Martinsville should earn him the pole position for the championship race. Anything can happen in the championship but Elliott’s first attempt brings him a good chance of bringing NASCAR glory back to Dawsonville for the first time since 1988 when Bill Elliott won the Winston Cup Series Championship.