Chase Elliott comes to Nashville as defending winner and needing another

LEBANON, TENNESSEE - JUNE 24: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 - Qualifying at Nashville Superspeedway on June 24, 2023 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Defending Nashville Superspeedway winner Chase Elliott arrives in Tennessee eager to defend his victory for sentimental reasons, but also needing to take the trophy for his season’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoff hopes. The 2020 series champion is currently ranked 27th in the championship standings, having missed seven races this season – six for injury and one for penalty.

With only 10 races left to set the 16-driver Playoff field, the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet likely needs to win a race to earn that automatic bid into the formal championship hunt. But the 27-year old arrived in Nashville confident in his team’s approach for this playoff push.

“I think just being in that nice sweet spot of pushing but not pushing too far, and pushing yourself and your team, but not pushing them too far,’’ Elliott said of his mindset. “I think there is a balance there where I feel like we’ve done the best and had the best results and I think that’s just where we need to stay, personally.

“When we do our jobs at that level and to the best of our abilities, I feel like it’s been plenty good enough to go and contend. We just have to fall into that rhythm and just do our thing.’’