NASCAR: Chase Elliott still in Cup championship fight

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Chase Elliott took his No. 9 team to the round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series owner playoffs, despite not being a playoff driver himself.

Despite having missed the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs for the first time in his eight-year career, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott still has a championship to fight for.

The drivers who replaced Elliott in the eight races he missed during the regular season managed to score enough points, combined with Elliott’s point total from his 19 starts, to get the No. 9 team the 16th and final spot in the owner playoffs over Bubba Wallace’s No. 23 23XI Racing team.

Now Elliott has scored enough points to take the team to the round of 12. Because Wallace, who made the playoffs on the driver side despite his team missing out on the owner side, advanced to the round of 12 himself, all of the teams eliminated in the round of 16 of the owner playoffs also saw their drivers eliminated.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, Team Penske’s Joey Logano, JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell have all been eliminated from title contention, as have their No. 4 team, No. 22 team, No. 47 team, an No. 34 team, respectively.

When Chase Elliott missed the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, it ended a number of series-long streaks among active drivers.

He had been to the round of 12 in seven straight years, the round of 8 in six straight years and the Championship 4 in four straight years. He had finished in the top 10 in the point standings in seven straight years, and he had been championship eligible for 134 straight races.

While the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet cannot personally extend any of those series-long streaks, he has still positioned his No. 9 team for similar success in the owner playoffs.

His average finish in the round of 16 was 7.00, placing the No. 9 team behind only Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team and Tyler Reddick’s No. 45 23XI Racing team in that category. Both Hamlin and Reddick and their respective teams also remain in title contention.

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Texas Motor Speedway is scheduled to get the round of 12 underway on Sunday, September 24 with the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400, which is set to be broadcast live on USA Network beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!