2020 Cup champion Chase Elliott has accepted that he will not be able to make it to the playoffs by points.
The Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 driver suffered a fractured tibia in a snowboarding accident on March 3. As a result, he had to miss six Cup races and he only came back to racing last weekend at Martinsville Speedway. For someone with six weeks of absence from racing, Elliott finished in a commendable 10th position.
Without a win so far this season, Elliott has conceded that he will have to win a race to make it to the 2023 playoffs.
“I think we’re a deserving team to be a part of the playoffs and I think we’re a strong enough team to make a run and race for a championship,” Elliott said.
“We all want to win as a group, it’s not because of my absence that we want to win any more than we already did. But we certainly recognize points are probably aren’t going to work from the driver’s side – certainly we could points-in from the owner’s side – but from a driver’s side, it’s going to be tough to do without out a win.”
Elliott still has 17 more races in the regular season to claim a place in the playoffs spots. The difficulty might have been higher than the previous seasons, but the 2020 champion is embracing this aspect of the challenge.
“I think it’s more just recognizing the job at hand and what we’re going to have to do to be a part of the show. Having that goal set in front of you I think is kind of fun,” Elliott said. “It’s very simple and pretty straightforward what we have to go do.
“We’re really embracing it as a group and I’ve embraced it on my end. I’m excited about the challenge, really. It’s kind of unique and fun – you either win and you’re in or you don’t and you fail.
“I kind of like it.”
Elliott has had multiple wins in each of the last three seasons. He has also featured in the Championship 4 race in each of those seasons. While the pressure might be higher for the HMS No. 9 driver, given that a big portion of the season is still left, one wouldn’t want to bet against him.