In the opening race of the 2017 playoffs, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports driver, Chase Elliott said the day was a much needed improvement. After the race, he reflected on the day’s competition.
Elliott said that while the improvement in performance and ultimate finishing position was great, he wishes they were able to battle race winner No. 78 Martin Truex, Jr. a bit more.
“We didn’t have anything for him,” Elliott said.
“From where we’ve been to where we ran today was a major, major step in the right direction, frankly where we need to be, where we deserve to be, to the potential we can run.”
Elliott said throughout the race, the car drove well, the pits stops were good, and the overall race execution worked.
“It was a pretty uneventful race for the most part,” he said.
“I felt like typically when that happens, the better cars always kind of end up towards the front. That proved to be with Martin [Truex] winning. I didn’t have anything for him, without a restart or something. It also proved that we were second to him. I’m not sure about the 18, if he could have got back up there.
Aside from those two, I feel like we could run about everybody else. That’s a lot better than we’ve been.”
Elliott said that with Truex again being the one to beat, getting in from of him had to happen on the restart.
“I think you could stay there for eight, ten laps. But I wasn’t going to fall in line behind him after a restart and pass him in eight laps without something lucky happening for me,” he said.
Previous Chicagoland Performances
Chase Elliott said that the Chicagoland performance was hard to compare to last year’s run and performance.
“A lot of things change from year to year,” Elliott said.
“We haven’t run as good through the summer months as we did last year. I did feel like we peaked about this time last year. But this isn’t last year, so it really doesn’t matter. This is this year. We need to be better than what we’ve been in the past. I thought that was an improvement today. Obviously have some work to do to get to that bunch that won the race. Aside from them, I think we were competitive to the rest of the field. ”
The HMS No. 24 driver said the day’s performance added some confidence in the team’s mile‑and‑a‑half program. With a majority of the playoff schedule happening at mile-and-a-half tracks, he said it was encouraging for the remainder of the season.
“There are also a lot of races that are not mile‑and‑a‑half’s that matter, that are important as well. It was nice to have pace and some good drivability today in our car here at Chicago. A lot of the rest of the mile‑and‑a‑half’s that we go to, I guess aside from Homestead, are a little more grippy than this one. I’m not sure what that will have to do with our pace or not. We’ll see when we get there.”