Chase Elliott’s Playoff Game Plan: Improvement and Consistency

Chase Elliott, the driver of the #24 NAPA Brakes Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 15, 2017, in Joliet, Illinois. Photo – Jared C Tilton/Getty Images

In his final ten races in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Chase Elliott doesn’t feel he can afford to look beyond his own efforts and his own team during his second run in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff (Sunday, Sept. 17 at Chicagoland Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

After all, Elliott qualified for the postseason on points. In a season where other drivers collected their first career victories—Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.—Elliott, surprisingly, is still seeking his first trophy at NASCAR’s highest level. In recent outings, Elliott and his No. 24 team haven’t performed to expectations. As a consequence, improved performance is a priority as the ten-race playoff begins.

“Our game plan right now is to try to focus on ourselves,” Elliott told the NASCAR Wire Service on Playoff media day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. “We need to be better as a whole. We need to improve, for sure. We need to be competing for race wins. We haven’t been doing that recently. I’ll be the first one to admit that.

“I think, for us, we’ve got to focus on ourselves first and foremost, try to be consistent. I think consistency will carry you a pretty good distance in this deal. I don’t think consistency will get you to Homestead alone, but I do think consistency will carry you a good ways. That’s our first thing right now, try to be consistent and improve ourselves and try not to worry about everybody else right now.”

Elliott also hopes to add at least one victory to the legacy of the No. 24 Chevrolet before he switches to the No. 9 Chevy at Hendrick Motorsports next year. Jeff Gordon, the only driver ever to win at the Cup level with the No. 24, recorded all 93 of his victories with that number.

Not only that—the only sure way to advance in the playoff is to win a race.

“I think you’re at least going to have to have a really good ability to win a race,” Elliott said. “If you’re not winning a race, you better have just lost it by not a lot. If you make it to the round of eight, if you’re not winning, you better be well inside the top five every week, in my opinion.”