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NASCAR’s Chase Elliott "Perplexed" after Another Disappointing Finish
In New Hampshire, Hendrick Motorsports’ star squandered another opportunity to earn a spot in the 2023 Cup Series Playoffs.
For Chase Elliott, time is literally running out.
The most popular driver in the NASCAR Cup Series for five years running failed to produce a noteworthy performance at the Crayon 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and, with only six races left in the regular season, a nightmarish scenario where stock car’s golden boy misses the cut for the 2023 Playoffs could very well become a reality.
Since missing six races in March and April after sustaining an injury while snowboarding, Elliott’s string of poor performances tells a narrative regrettably foreign to the usual fairytale script the 27-year-old is used to following. Unable to find any momentum since returning to competition, the native of Dawsonville, Georgia now sits in a dismal 23rd place, nearly 300 points behind the league-leading Martin Truex Jr.
His most recent performance – a 12th-place finish in New Hampshire – has nudged him ever-so-slightly closer to a precarious, must-win situation down the final stretch of the season and left him looking inward for answers.
Asked what was perplexing him, Elliott’s signature, melancholy southern drawl seemed a bit more sullen than usual in his candid response.
“A lot,” Elliott managed to muster in a post-race interview, according to Frontstretch. “I am just a perplexed person. I stay perplexed – you all should know that by now.”
A poor qualifying run that locked in his starting position in the 18th slot may have soured his trajectory from the jump. Even prior to the race, Elliott’s pessimistic outlook on his chances to bounce back in the standings and finish the regular season strong didn’t instill much hope for fans wondering whether the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro had his eyes on the ultimate prize.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” revealed Elliott, according to The Sports Rush. “Very, very rarely in my career have I ever really struggled through practice and qualifying and just miraculously hit it. I mean, it’s happened. But it’s pretty few and far between. So, just make the most of it. You never know what tomorrow’s gonna bring.”
While the deck might appear to be stacked against Elliott, the 2020 Cup Series champion knows a thing or two about coping with pressure. In his preparation for the HighPoint.com 400 at Pocono Raceway, where won last year, Elliott’s putting in a little extra practice on the 2.5-mile track. Elliott has decided to also compete in the Xfinity Series race there on Saturday. Driving the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevy in the Explore the Poconos Mountains 225, according to NASCAR, Elliott will make his first start in the Xfinity Series since his one-time appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2021.
If his past is a decent indicator of his future, Elliott’s lone Xfinity Series start at Pocono that produced a second-place finish and his Cup Series win there last year could position him for the much-needed victory he needs to punch his playoff ticket.