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Chase Elliott’s playoff worries following Darlington in 2022

Chase Elliott is 14 points above the cut-line after a wreck at Darlington. Why should Elliott be concerned and confident about the races at Kansas and Bristol?

Austin Konenski
NASCAR: Cup Practice and Qualifying
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Chase Elliott entered the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway with a 33-point cushion to the cut-line; however, a wreck near the end of Stage 1 ended his day due to the damaged vehicle policy.

What did Elliott have to say about the wreck and why should he be worried and confident?

Chase Elliott talks about his wreck at Darlington Raceway

NASCAR: Cup Series Playoff Media Day
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Elliott found himself finishing in last place after a wreck that collected fellow playoff opponent Chase Briscoe, even with the added four minutes on the damaged vehicle policy clock that was changed before the playoffs.

Elliott lightly talked about the incident but it was easy to tell he was feeling frustrated about the event with some short answers.

“Yeah, just hit the wall there in one and two, and broke something in the right rear.”

Chase Elliott on his wreck

That was exactly what happened but Elliott didn’t go any deeper. It appears the 26-year-old driver simply got loose and slammed the wall. Most of the damage came when he collected Briscoe, as said above.

When asked about what he and the No. 9 team need to accomplish moving forward, Elliott kept it brief after a rough weekend that started with poor practice and qualifying results.

“Run better than we did today.”

Chase Elliott on what they need to do at Kansas

It’s certainly not a great start to the playoffs for Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports overall. The entire team except Alex Bowman ended up reporting issues at some point, including defending champion Kyle Larson with mysterious mechanical issues.

The first race of the 2022 playoffs was not a good showing for the organization. There are gremlins that need to be addressed across the entire camp before they head to Kansas Speedway next weekend.

Related: Chase Elliott wins NASAR Cup Series regular-season title

Big reasons why Chase Elliott should be concerned and confident

NASCAR: Cup Series Goodyear 400
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While Elliott’s first race at Kansas Speedway might have been an asterisk, there should be a concern based on how the first race of the Round 16 played out.

Elliott will have 40 playoff points if he advances to the Round of 12, but the playoffs set up really well for the dominant combinations of the first race in Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota.

Joe Gibbs Racing did have gremlins too. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. dominated the event but saw mechanical issues late that ended both of their nights. Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell still came home with top-5 finishes.

Even if Elliott didn’t wreck, the car was simply not good enough to compete with Toyota Racing and that should be the concern. Kansas Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway will likely be the same way.

Plus, Elliott did finish in 29th place at Kansas Speedway and 25th place at Bristol Motor Speedway the last times he has been to the next two tracks. Both of them are out of his control, but it’s a trend to watch.

On a positive note, Elliott has not finished worst than sixth place at the second Kansas race in the last five seasons. It is one of the strongest races of his career and that should be a positive for him as he looks to bounce back.

Also, the 26-year-old has a checkered past with the Bristol Night Race; however, he has led 20-plus laps in the last six pavement events at Bristol Motor Speedway. It is one of his strongest tracks on the schedule too.

There are reasons to be both concerned and confident. Elliott has been strong all season and should bounce back well at one of his best races of the season, even if they lacked speed at Darlington Raceway.