Why Chase Elliott Holds an Advantage Over the Field in the Cup Playoff Race at Talladega

The major talk heading into the race at Talladega is around Team Penske drivers Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney. Which is quite fair, given their stellar show there in recent years. However, Chase Elliott emerges as a genuine leading contender to win the race and book his place in the next round.

While it is not something that is apparent right away, NASCAR pundit David Smith explained why Hendrick Motorsports drivers, and Elliott in particular, hold a real advantage at Talladega.

He pointed out their superiority in terms of speed on drafting tracks like Talladega.

Why Chase Elliott is so good at such tracks

He has a drafting track reputation already. But just consider Hendrick Motorsports. Speed after speed every year without fail at these tracks,” Smith said on the ‘Positive Regression’ podcast.

Even in race conditions..those Hendrick cars, fast. They rank 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 11th in central speed on the drafting tracks,” Smith added.

Sep 27, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott (9) leads driver Denny Hamlin (11) during the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Smith pointed out that Chevrolet cars in particular have been strong on such tracks. They lead the field in terms of speed, and topping that list is the No. 9 car of Chase Elliott.

Where Elliott leads the field

Part of this Chevrolet dominance that we’ve seen on these tracks this season. The 7 fastest cars are all Chevrolets. Chase Elliott is right on the top of that list. He has been phenomenal in his early efforts in drafting,” Smith added.

While these stats are never a sure shot recipe for success, Smith pointed out the key for success at Talladega on Sunday. He cited Joey Logano as an example of the same.

Chase Elliott in action in NASCAR
Sep 27, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) leads driver Chase Elliott (9) and a group during the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The key to success at Talladega

The way to go about avoiding any of these big crashes is smart pit strategies. We’ve seen the Toyota teams pit intelligently to avoid the middle of the field. We’ve seen Joey Logano take heavy doses of two-tire stops to gain him up the running order,” Smith added further.

Other teams are gonna be attempting to do that to the lead cars at Talladega. Chase Elliott and the Hendrick other cars are gonna have to stay on top of that. If they want to avoid losing track position without actually getting passed,” he continued.

While William Byron and Jimmie Johnson will also look to win, Elliott and Bowman have more at stake, being playoff contenders.

Read more – Can Kyle Busch Win at Talladega and Continue an Interesting Trend?