Chase Elliott builds on positive momentum with Martinsville top-5

The No. 9 team is building momentum into the spring stretch

Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Elliott is still seeking his first NASCAR Cup Series since October 2022 at Talladega but the past month has been a return to form that most recently included a chance at winning Martinsville on Sunday.

Elliott spent a near majority of the race inside the top-five and restarted alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron as a late caution sent the race into overtime. Elliott gave Byron a hearty shove into the corner but not enough to wreck him but did cost him second place to Kyle Larson.

From there, Elliott turned his attention towards securing a Hendrick Motrosports 1-2-3, which he did by holding off Bubba Wallace for fourth on the final lap.

“I had an okay jump,” Elliott said. “Just couldn’t make it stick there on the outside. Got into (Turn) 3 and tried to root him up off the bottom and went to get the power down to get up underneath him and I just couldn’t do it. And then I tried to run in really hard into (Turn) 1 and roll a little bit of a diamond and couldn’t make that stick either. So, at that point, I figured what was second or third? Who cares at that point? You try to go for the win or not.”

So even if it wasn’t the way he, crew chief Alan Gustafson and their No. 9 team drew it up, Elliott ended up going to victory lane to celebrate the win with the entire organization on a very meaningful day for Hendrick Motorsports.

“Happy for William, happy for everybody at Hendrick Motorsports,” Elliott said. “Really special to have all of our folks here — there are a lot of them and their families. Hate Rick (Hendrick, car owner) couldn’t be here today and (Rick’s wife) Linda but certainly happy and proud to be a part of their organization and ultimately their family.”

Elliott had finished outside of the top-10 in four of the first five races but now has a fifth and a third the past two weeks, feeling more like the contender from years past.

“Nice to have a couple solid weeks, to be in contention there for a win. Haven’t been in contention to win one in a while,” Elliott said. “It was fun to kind of get to that last restart and it actually mattered. Enjoyed that aspect. Certainly hungry for more.

“I feel like throughout a lot of the season this year, we’ve been working in a good direction, working really good together. Pit stops have been really good. Alan has been calling really good races.

“All that stuff has been going in a really positive direction, in my opinion. I think if we can just keep producing that, we’ll get our turn one day.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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