Elliott Sees Brighter Days Ahead


“We had the pace to be there and to have a shot at Homestead and we didn’t, but we had the pace to do it throughout those 10 weeks and I think that is something to be proud of." (Photo: Getty Images)


Chase Elliott believes the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will be his best yet.
Elliott the enters the 2018 campaign in his third full year competing at NASCAR’s highest level. In all he’s made 77 career starts and recorded 22 top-five and 38 top-10 finishes as a member of Hendrick Motorsports.
Last season Elliott finished fifth in the final point standings but he thinks there even better things ahead in 2018.
“I was very proud of our team and the way we ran in the final 10 weeks last year,” Elliott said this week during the Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway.  “There wasn’t one person, every one of y’all included that thought we were going to do what we did in the last 10 weeks.  And I think that is something to be proud of.  I know it didn’t end like we wanted it to. 
“We had the pace to be there and to have a shot at Homestead and we didn’t, but we had the pace to do it throughout those 10 weeks and I think that is something to be proud of.  We had the pit stops to do it, we had the race strategy calls to do it.  I think I can do it and excited to give it another shot this year.”
Elliott was involved in one of the season’s most celebrated incidents when he and Denny Hamlin tangled at Martinsville last October. He appeared on his way to career win number one until Hamlin made contact with his rear bumper sending Elliott into the wall. The duo became engaged in a heated debate after the race and the emotions spilled over to Phoenix two weeks later when Elliott’s aggressiveness impacted Hamlin’s chances to move on to the Championship 4.
However, Elliott doesn’t necessarily look at the series of events as something that will change his approach or driving style going forward.
“I mean I think it’s circumstantial,” he explained.  “I think in life in general you can’t let people run over you and let them get away with it otherwise they are just going to keep doing it.  I think that is just a part of life.  If you let somebody control you too much they are probably going to take advantage of you as it goes on that happens in work places every day.  It happens in racing, I’m sure it happens in football, baseball, basketball, the whole deal. 
“I’m a big believer in that so I will race guys as they race me and obviously I want to beat people the right way because I think at the end of the day racing people the right way and doing it with respect is probably going to make them more mad than it would if you did something dirty to get by them.  I’m a big believer in that and I think that is the best way to do it and that is kind of the way I’ve tried to do it in the past.  I’ve made mistakes like everybody else, but I think it’s important to carry yourself and try not to let people run over you.”
The Texas test session was the first on track appearance for the new Camaro ZL1 that replaces the Chevrolet as the manufacturer’s Cup Series entry this season. 
While Elliott has high hopes for the car’s performance this year, he was hesitant to draw too much from what he experienced during the tire test.
“I think the changes will probably become more apparent, hopefully, when we get to say Atlanta or get to some of the tracks that the changes are going to become important at,” he said.  “Out there making laps it is so hard to tell. 
“I think until we get into those situations and kind of get some races under our belt as not only an organization, but as a manufacturer as a whole to see exactly how we stack up I think it will be tough to say until then.”

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