Chase Elliott needs more magic to keep Playoff hopes alive

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 02: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, stands on the grid during the Salute to Veterans Qualifying Day Fueled by The Texas Lottery for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 02, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs have been a repeating story of disaster and recovery for driver Chase Elliott.

After crashing his No. 99 Chevrolet nose-first into the Turn 1 tire barrier at the Charlotte Road Course, Elliott recovered to win the first elimination race of the Playoffs.

But Elliott’s engine expired eight laps into the opening Round of 12 race at Dover. He finished dead last in a field of 38 and scored one point.

Two weeks later, facing elimination at Kansas Speedway, Elliott faced a 20-point deficit to Brad Keselowski entering the race. In an overtime restart, Elliott charged to second place as Keselowski faded. The net difference was just enough for Elliott to grab the final berth in the Round of 8.

The opening race in the Round 8 at Martinsville, however, brought more catastrophe. A broken axle relegated Elliott to a 36th-place finish, 55 laps down. Consequently, Elliott must pull another rabbit out of his hat in the next two races.

Currently 44 points below the cut line for the Championship 4, Elliott almost certainly must win either at Texas or ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

“For us, just trying to keep our season alive,” Elliott said of his approach to Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at TMS (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). “You want to be able to go to Homestead and race for a championship. There’s only going to be four guys that have that opportunity, right?

“So, for us, we’re in a tough spot from a points standpoint that we’ve pretty much got to go win, either here or Phoenix or both or something spectacular happen for us to move on. So, that’s the cards we dealt ourselves after last week and we’ll see how it plays out.”

Greg Engle