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Championship 4: Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott will make his first appearance in the Championship 4 in search of his first NASCAR Cup Series title in his fifth full-time season.

Elliott By The Numbers:
1 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 (2020).
2 – Number of top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway.
4 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins in 2020.
5 – Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway.
9.2 – Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2020 season.
9.6 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2020 Playoffs.
10 – Number of stage wins during the 2020 season.
12.0 – Average finishing position during the 2020 season.
13.0 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway.
14 – Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of 2020 season.
21 – Number of top-10 finishes during the 2020 season.
27 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2020.
102.3 – Season-to-date driver rating – second-best among active drivers.
105.3 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway – second-best among active drivers.
249 – Total number of laps led at Phoenix Raceway.
1,094 – Total number of laps led in the 2020 season.
9,229 – Total number of laps completed in the 2020 season (96.1%).

Elliott has chance to join his father as a NASCAR Cup Series champion
NASCAR has been built by hard working and dedicated families like the Frances, Pettys, Jarretts, Earnhardts and this weekend Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott has the chance to add to his family’s legacy and join his NASCAR Hall of Fame father Bill Elliott (1988) as a champion in the highest form of stock car racing – the NASCAR Cup Series.

If Elliott accomplishes the feat the Elliotts (Bill: 1988) would join the Pettys (Lee: 1954, 1958, 1959 and Richard: 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979), and the Jarretts (Ned: 1961, 1965 and Dale: 1999) as just the third father-son combo to win the NASCAR Cup Series title. Why Elliott will win the 2020 Cup Series title

Elliott’s talent was apparent early in his career. The Georgia native jumped in the national NASCAR scene in 2013 in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series on a part-time basis, making nine starts and winning at Canadian Tire in just his sixth start. He then climbed up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with JR Motorsport and became the first rookie in series history to win the series championship in 2014. He ran one more season in Xfinity, finishing runner-up in the points in 2015 before moving up to the NASCAR Cup Series fulltime in 2016. Elliott has qualified for the Playoffs all five seasons he has competed in the NASCAR Cup Series, but this is the first one in which he has a clear shot at the title. Since running fulltime in the series, Elliott has put up 10 wins, 58 top fives and 95 top 10s.

Mr. ‘Most Popular’ is looking to cap off a career season
Hendrick Motorsport’s Chase Elliott is having a career year and not only because he made the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s Championship 4 round for the first time, but also because he has racked up four wins on the season – also a career first.

The reigning series Most Popular Driver, Elliott had a slow start to the 2020 season with three finishes outside the top-15 in the first six races, but all that changed when he got to Charlotte. Elliott was strong in both Charlotte oval races, leading 38 laps in the first event and finishing runner-up, but followed that up in the next race by leading 28 laps and winning his first event of the season. The 24-year old then rallied off 10 top-10 finishes and another win at the Charlotte ROVAL to finish out the regular season.

Elliott entered the 2020 Playoffs as the fifth seed with 20 Playoff points to his credit.

Unfortunately, an incident with Martin Truex Jr. for the lead at Darlington relegated him to a 20th-place finish to open the postseason, but Elliott was quick to rebound, finishing fifth at Richmond and seventh at Bristol to advance to the Round of 12. Again, Elliott struggled at the start of the next round, finishing 22nd at Las Vegas but found his momentum at Talladega with a fifth-place finish and secured his spot in the Round of 8 with a win at the Charlotte ROVAL.

Elliott then finished sixth at Kansas and slipped to a 20th-place finish at Texas in the Round of 8. As a result, Elliott was in a precarious position 25 points behind the Championship 4 cutoff heading into the penultimate race of the season at Martinsville Speedway. But the rising star answered the call and won at Martinsville Speedway, becoming the third driver since the inception of the elimination-style format in 2014 to win his way into the Championship 4 round; joining Kevin Harvick in 2014 and Denny Hamlin in 2019. His previous best finish in the final championship standings was fifth in 2017.

Through 35 races this season Chase Elliott has put up four wins, 14 top fives and 21 top 10s. He has led 1,094 laps and has an average finish of 12.0. He also has the second-best season-to-date driver rating (105.3) on the year.

Elliott’s prowess in the Valley of the Sun
For the first time in series history Phoenix Raceway will host the season finale race and set the stage for the Championship 4 to battle it out for the NASCAR Cup Series title. And the recent change could not have come at a better time for Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott, who has performed much better at Phoenix than the previous season finale venue Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Elliott has made nine starts at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, posting two top fives, five top 10s and a pole. His average finish at Phoenix is a strong 13.0, sixth-best in the series and second-best in the Championship 4 behind Denny Hamlin’s 11.3. Elliott is also near the top of the charts in several pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 8.930, second-best in the series, a Driver Rating of 105.3, second-best, 243 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best and 2,418 Laps in the Top 15 (85.5%), 13th-most. He started from the pole and finished seventh at Phoenix earlier this season.

Crew Chief Corner: Adam Gustafson
Since making his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series as a Hendrick Motorsport’s crew chief in 2005, Adam Gustafson has shown that he is one of the best in the sport. During his 16 seasons of full-time competition, Gustafson has worked with five different drivers: Kyle Busch (2005-2007), Casey Mears (2008), Mark Martin (2009, 2010), Jeff Gordon (2011-2015) and Chase Elliott (2016-Present). And during those 16 seasons he led his drivers to 13 Playoff appearances and to wins in 12 of the seasons. This weekend at Phoenix will mark his second appearance in the Championship 4, his first appearance was with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon in 2015, they finished the season third in points.

The Elliott-Gustafson pair has combined for the following achievements in 176 NASCAR Cup Series races together since 2016:

    • 10 wins
    • 57 top fives
    • 94 top 10s
    • 2,938 laps led
    • 9 poles
    • One NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearance (2020)
    • Five consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances (2016-2020)

The two will look to capture their first NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. If they accomplish the feat, Gustafson will become the 41st different crew chief in the series with a championship.

Adding to the historic legacy of Hendrick Motorsports
When it comes to winning titles in the NASCAR Cup Series, no organization does it better than Hendrick Motorsports with their series leading 12 championships among three drivers – Jimmie Johnson (2016, ’13, ’10, ’09, ’08, ’07, ’06), NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (2001, ’98, ’97, ’95) and Terry Labonte (1996).

Overall Hendrick Motorsports has 15 NASCAR national series owner championships, the all-time record in NASCAR.

And to boot, Hendrick Motorsports was the first organization in the series history to win four straight, from 1995-98 (Jeff Gordon in 1995 and 1997-98; Terry Labonte 1996). And then upped their record in the series with five straight, from 2006-2010 (Jimmie Johnson). Hendrick Motorsports has won 12 of the last 25 NASCAR Cup Series championships (1995-2019), putting the team’s title-winning percentage during that span at 48% – series-best.

Chase Elliott can add to the legacy of Hendrick Motorsports this weekend by winning the title and extending the organization’s record in series championships. In total, 13 different organizations have won at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Hendrick Motorsports with 10 victories.