Chase Elliott is a realist. He knows that, without a victory next Sunday at Phoenix, he almost surely won’t be eligible for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title in the Nov. 18 Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Not that Elliott didn’t have a solid performance in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Under conditions that made passing difficult, he worked his way up from the 16th starting position, ran in the top 10 for most of the afternoon and finished sixth at the 1.5-mile track.
But on Sunday, solid wasn’t good enough. Elliott leaves Texas 39 points behind Martin Truex Jr., who currently holds the fourth spot in the Playoff standings. At Phoenix, the field will be cut from eight drivers to the four who will battle for the championship.
Elliott has never won at the one-mile track in the Sonoran Desert, but he does have a second and a third in his last two starts there.
“I mean, yeah, I feel better about Phoenix than I did about today, for sure,” Elliott said. “Yeah, we’ll see. I mean, I don’t know till we get there. Yeah, tough spot to be in.
“But, ultimately, you’ve got to be in a must‑win situation at Homestead if you ever make it down there, so you might as well get used to it and like it.”