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NASCAR PREVIEW: What Chase Elliott’s road to back-to-back titles looks like
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Chase Elliott right before getting into his No. 9 Napa Chevy Camaro for the Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. - photo by Ben Hendren

The NASCAR Cup Series regular season is over, with Dawsonville native Chase Elliott ready to defend his 2020 title and be the first back-to-back winner since Jimmie Johnson’s historic run. 

Elliott starts the playoffs in fifth place, with 21 extra playoff points to his name. He currently sits behind Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and teammate Kyle Larson. 

After looking over Elliott’s statistics at each track, here is my insight on how Elliott will do this playoff season. 

ROUND OF 16

DARLINGTON RACEWAY 

Career Races: 9

Average Starting Position Through Career: 11.9

Average Finishing Position Through Career: 17.2 

Career Top-5 Finishes: 2

Career Wins: 0

Best Finish at track: 5th place on May 20, 2020 

Most recent finish: 7th place on May 9, 2021

Preview: As of late, Elliott’s relationship with Darlington has improved tremendously. In the Round of 16 last playoff season, Elliott finished in 20th place, but does have two top-five career finishes and performed well earlier this season. 


RICHMOND RACEWAY 

Career Races: 11

Average Starting Position Through Career: 15.1

Average Finishing Position Through Career: 12.0

Career Top-5 Finishes: 3

Career Wins: 0

Best Finish at track: 2nd place on April 21, 2018 

Most recent finish: 12th place on April 18, 2021 

Preview: Since the 2017 Cup Series playoffs, Elliott has not finished outside the top-15 at a race in Richmond. Last year’s playoff race in Richmond, Elliott finished in fifth place after starting in 12th. Barring any external forces, nothing to worry about here. 


BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY 

Career Races: 10

Average Starting Position Through Career: 6.8

Average Finishing Position Through Career: 12.1

Career Top-5 Finishes: 3

Career Wins: 0

Best Finish at track: 3rd place on Aug. 18, 2018 

Most recent finish: 7th place on Sept. 19, 2020

Preview: After the 2021 regular season race at Bristol became a dirt track where Elliott finished in 10th, this will be a wildcard race. Bristol is so unpredictable and anything can happen, but again, Elliott has finished 11th or better in four of the last five Bristol races. 


ROUND OF 12

LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY 

Career Races: 9

Average Starting Position Through Career: 8.8

Average Finishing Position Through Career: 20.6

Career Top-5 Finishes: 2

Career Wins: 0

Best Finish at track: 3rd place on March 12, 2017

Most recent finish: 13th place on March 7, 2021 

Preview: Other than Daytona, Las Vegas is statistically Elliott’s worst track in the Cup Series, finishing on average below 20th place in nine career races. However, Elliott led for 73 laps in the 2020 playoff race at Las Vegas before finishing in 22nd place. 


TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY

Career Races: 11

Average Starting Position Through Career: 6.0

Average Finishing Position Through Career: 15.7 

Career Top-5 Finishes: 4

Career Wins: 1

Best Finish at track: 1st place on April 28, 2019 

Most recent finish: 24th on April 25, 2021 

Preview: Elliott truly has a love-hate relationship with Talladega. He has crashed three times and finished outside of the top-30 three times. However, he has a win in 2019 and finished fifth in last year’s Talladega playoff race. Anything can happen. 


CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE 

Career Races: 3

Average Starting Position Through Career: 8.3

Average Finishing Position Through Career: 2.7

Career Top-5 Finishes: 2

Career Wins: 2

Best Finish at track: 1st place on Sept. 29, 2019

Most recent finish:  1st place on Oct. 11, 2020 

Preview: If Elliott is looking uncertain after a race at Las Vegas and Talladega, history would prove he still has nothing to worry about. Elliott has seen victory lane the last two road course races in Charlotte and has given fans no reason to think he’s going to slow down. 


ROUND OF 8

TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY 

Career Races: 10

Average Starting Position Through Career: 13.9

Average Finishing Position Through Career: 11.8

Career Top-5 Finishes: 2

Career Wins: 0

Best Finish at track: 4th place on Nov. 6, 2016

Most recent finish: 20th place on Oct. 25, 2020

Preview: After starting his career red-hot at Texas, Elliott has cooled off significantly, with no top-10 finish since 2018. However, NASCAR held the 2021 All Star race in Texas and Elliott finished third. That may be enough of a spark to get him back in the Texas groove. 


KANSAS SPEEDWAY 

Career Races: 11

Average Starting Position Through Career: 14.1

Average Finishing Position Through Career: 10.45

Career Top-5 Finishes: 5

Career Wins: 1

Best Finish at track: 1st place on Oct. 21, 2018

Most recent finish: 5th place on May 2, 2021 

Preview: Kansas is one of Elliott’s best tracks to race on. In six of the last eight races he has raced in Kansas, he finished in the top-6, with the other two races being 12th place finishes. Expect Elliott to excel in Kansas. 


MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY 

Career Races: 12

Average Starting Position Through Career: 10.0

Average Finishing Position Through Career: 13.5

Career Top-5 Finishes: 5

Career Wins: 1

Best Finish at track: 1st place on Nov. 1, 2020

Most recent finish: 2nd place on April 10, 2021

Preview: Elliott ran the best race I have ever seen in his winning effort at Martinsville to get him into the 2020 Cup Series championship. He performed his encore with a second place finish in April. If you could only pick one, this is the race to watch. 


CHAMPIONSHIP

PHOENIX RACEWAY 

Career Races: 11

Average Starting Position Through Career: 4.7

Average Finishing Position Through Career: 11.18 

Career Top-5 Finishes: 4

Career Wins: 1

Best Finish at track: 1st place on Nov. 8, 2020

Most recent finish: 5th place on March 14, 2021 

Preview: Once Elliott is back in the championship race to defend his title, all bets are off. After starting in last place in the championship last year, it took Elliott nothing to surge back into first place. If he’s racing for hardware in Phoenix, beware. 


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