Elliott has the drive for more magic at the Monster Mile

By Mike Finney
Posted 4/22/24

DOVER — The calm around the small town of Dawsonville, Ga., was broken when the siren at the Dawsonville Pool Room blared a sound of excitement — and relief — on April 14.

It …

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Elliott has the drive for more magic at the Monster Mile


DOVER — The calm around the small town of Dawsonville, Georgia, was broken when the siren at the Dawsonville Pool Room blared a sound of excitement — and relief — on April 14.

It is a local tradition that occurs every time NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott wins a race, and one that previously took place every time his legendary father, Bill Elliott, was victorious.

This time, two Sunday’s ago, marked a special wailing of the siren as it screamed out to the countryside that Chase Elliott was back.

The 2020 Cup Series champion and the sport’s six-time defending Most Popular driver had won for the first time since the 2022 season, snapping a 42-race winless skid in the process, in the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“The wins are nice,” said Elliott, who has 19 career victories in the Cup Series. “For sure, you have to enjoy them, because, man, they’re hard to get. It certainly made me enjoy these moments more … slow down and embrace it because it’s what you work for every week.”

Elliott, the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, hopes to bring more of that forward momentum into Sunday’s Wurth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway, a track where he has experienced tremendous success.

After finishing third in both races at Dover during his rookie season in 2016, he became the track’s youngest winner in the 2018 October race at the speedway, taking the checkered flag at 22 years old, 10 months and nine days, a record that still stands.

He scored his second victory at Dover in May 2022, becoming a repeat winner at the track in only 12 starts.

“We’ve had some really solid runs on the Cup front (at Dover),” said Elliott, who finished 15th at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. “It’s been fortunate that this place has been a solid track for us over the last few years. I hope that continues.

“We’ll see. I’ve enjoyed coming up here. I wish that meant we were going to guarantee me a good run, but unfortunately, that’s not how it goes.”

Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, says the return of Elliott’s No. 9 race team to victory lane has just been a natural progression of the entire team.

He pointed to the communication that is shared between the driver and his crew chief Alan Gustafson, the longest tenured driver-crew chief pairing in the Cup Series garage.

“We don’t as a company think Chase Elliott has ever been gone,” Andrews said. “We had some things to work on with the team, the support we were giving them.

“Yeah, certainly Chase is back. I think the bigger picture is what we’ve seen in 2024 is exactly the momentum we want to see built with that team. They’re headed in a good direction. We’re going to keep working as an organization to get even stronger than where we’re at now.”

Long road back to top

Elliott had been experiencing somewhat of a drought at the racetrack since 2022, having some difficulty adjusting to the handling of the current Next Gen car that is currently used in the NASCAR series.

Those problems only exacerbated when the driver suffered a fractured tibia during a skiing accident in Vail, Colorado, after just two races into the 2023 season, forcing him to miss six races.

Following his return after recuperating from his injury, Elliott was suspended from NASCAR for intentionally crashing into Denny Hamlin during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway last season.

Despite missing seven races, he still managed to finish 17th in the points standings, just barely missing the Cup Series playoffs.

This season has proven to be a rebound effort for Elliott and his entire race team. Getting the streak-snapping victory at Texas two weeks ago was just the icing on the cake.

“I think just our performance over the last month or maybe two has done more than anything (for the team),” Elliott said. “I mean, I think obviously these races are hard to win. They seem like they get harder, at least for me. They continuously get harder over time.

“I think that the win’s great, all that stuff is fantastic, but I’m truthfully most proud of the journey and the group of people that we have climbed back up together with. We’ve made each other better. They push me to be a better driver and a better person.

“That’s what I’m most proud of, is the journey and all of us sticking together at the 9 team.”

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