Chase Elliott has been the hottest driver in The Playoffs not named Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Busch. Since The Playoffs started Elliott has recorded three-second place finishes and a 11th in New Hampshire. Elliott and his #24 team have turned on the proverbial overdrive in The Playoffs. So much that he is a legitimate contender for Homestead six weeks from now.
When The Playoffs started the NASCAR media immediately appointed Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Kyle Larson as locks to make it to the Final Four. Essentially the media went Dickie V. and chalked the bracket putting the #1 seeds into the final four because that’s the kind of analysis that brings the people back week after week. However, that leaves one spot open based on their predictions. Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski or Jimmie Johnson would be the logical picks for that spot. Veterans with the talent, patience, and skill to finagle their way into that championship race.
Chase Elliott Says Hold Up
Jeff Gordon’s departing replacement may have something to say about the conclusion of this championship. Chase Elliott has recorded three second-place finishes in the first 4 races of the playoffs. If he can keep up this torrid pace there is no reason he can’t be in the final four for the championship race at Homestead.
Here’s the thing, Chase Elliott doesn’t even need to win a race to win this championship. He currently sits 4th in the point standings heading into Talladega with no wins to his record. Even with a penalty following Chicagoland, Elliott still sits in a transfer spot for The Playoffs. Elliott is 15 points to the good in terms of transferring to the round of 8. With Talladega, this weekend and Kansas next weekend his past races at both tracks/tracks of that style would indicate he should transfer to that round.
If Chase Elliott makes it into the round of 8 he is almost a lock for Homestead based on points. The penultimate round consists of Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix. Elliott’s career average finish at Martinsville is 11.6 but he finished 3rd there in the spring. At Texas he as an average finish of 6th with a fourth-place finish there last fall. Then at Phoenix, he has an average finish of 9.6, he also has Alan Gustafson in his corner for Phoenix.
Don’t let Elliott into that final round, he’s liable to win a race or point his way into the final. NASCAR implemented this new win and you’re in playoff round to encourage drivers to win. To reward drivers for winning. Ryan Newman came one spot close to making a mockery of their system, Chase Elliott has a legit shot of doing that.
All Elliott Needs Is A Second Place At Homestead
If Chase Elliott makes it to Homestead, all he needs is a second place finish and a non-championship driver to win the race to win the championship. Kyle Larson is going to be hard to beat at Homestead, but if Elliott can hang around the front he can make this happen.
Since joining Furniture Row Racing Truex has struggled at Homestead. In three previous races with the team, they have finishes of 17, 12, and 36th last season. Not a resounding confidence booster for the team heading into Homestead and something they have avoided talking about. So for argument’s sake lets take Truex out of the equation and assume he won’t win.
Now we’re left with Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson. Busch has a win at Homestead in 2015 when he won the championship. His last three races at Homestead have resulted in finishes of 39th, 1st, and 6th. Busch is a contender for a win at Homestead but he isn’t a guaranteed contender like Kyle Larson.
When it comes to Homestead Larson should have won the last 2 races there without a doubt. Both times suspicious late race cautions cost him a shot at a win. In the last three races where he has finishes of 13th, 5th, and 2nd. Trending towards a win.
The Championship race at Homestead has proven to be a must win for the champion. Each time the Championship winner has risen to the occasion and had to win the finale. That trend can’t continue forever and this season is likely the best chance for it to end and have a non-race winner win the championship.
Chase Elliott can make a mockery of the process. How crazy would it be for a guy who has never won a race in his career, win the championship? Embrace the chaos.
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