Elliott Chasing Playoff Spot at Bristol

ChaseElliott

“We are certainly in a tight spot. I know we are one of the last few spot of non-winners that are still in. That is not a comfortable situation to be in because there is always an opportunity for a guy on the outside to win a race and bump you back another position.” (Photo: Getty Images)

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Chase Elliott is approaching the final three races of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season in an uncomfortable position.

Elliott currently has a spot in the NASCAR Playoffs, on points. But he knows that with three races left to the cutoff and three spots available to drivers who haven’t won this year, he needs to be aggressive to maintain his position in the standings or claim his first career win to be part of the playoff picture.

"You're never comfortable," Elliott said. "We're in a tight spot, one of the last few non-winners that are still in. That's not a comfortable situation to be in because there's always an opportunity for a guy on the outside to win a race and bump you back another position."

Elliott is coming off what would be a disappointing eighth-place finish last weekend at Michigan, a track where in three previous starts, he'd never finished worse than second. Going into Michigan, Elliott knew he had as good a chance as anywhere to get a win. But he also knew his second-place streak didn’t guarantee anything.

"I knew the second-place streak was going to end at some point. I was hoping it was going to end for the better and not for the worse," Elliott said. "But we'll definitely take a top 10 and a solid day for our situation versus a bad day."

While Elliott’s 2017 season has seen its successes, he hasn’t been in position to win as much as his rookie season in 2016, something that he is fully aware of. Elliott wants to win but knows that it isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially at NASCAR’s top level when the competition is as strong as it's ever been.

"I want to be in positions more often to win and to me, that’s the key to it all," Elliott said. "What makes it tough is when it’s just an opportunity here or there to get there. It’s when you have opportunities time and time again over a course of 15 or 20 weekends that you’ve just been running really well. You’ve really been on your game for that period of time."

So why hasn’t Elliott had those opportunities to win more often this season?

"It’s not for a lack of effort, a lack of trying harder or trying to run well. Things just haven’t worked out as many times as they did last year for us to have some great opportunities to go win races," Elliott said. "We're working hard to try to get back in those positions more often and hate that we didn’t capitalize on the opportunities we had last year because looking back, I would love to have as good of a chance as we had some weekends last season."

He also admits he didn’t realize last season how close he was to winning.

"There were some days last year where we did make the most of our opportunity and it still didn’t work out," Elliott said. "Hopefully, we have some more chances moving forward and we can maybe even try to turn a decent day into a really good day. Those are the ones you really need to be proud of."

So Elliott will try to make the most of the opportunities presented to him and his Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 team on Saturday night at Bristol, a race he says is one of his favorites.

"It’s a huge event. It’s more than just another week," Elliott said. "The Bristol night race is one of the coolest races on the schedule. Hopefully, we have some more chances moving forward and we can maybe even try to turn a decent day into a really good day."

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