NASCAR: Chase Elliott’s latest move was inevitable

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Chase Elliot has overtaken Ty Gibbs for 17th place in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, which is the best he can finish the 2023 season.

Four races into the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott is officially the highest non-playoff driver in the point standings.

Elliott missed this year’s playoffs because, in addition to not winning a regular season race, he missed seven of the 26 regular season races. Despite having one of the top 10 averages in points per regular season race, he was unable to score enough to extend a seven-year playoff streak.

But having still come close to the postseason, and with an average far greater than any other driver who missed the postseason, it seemed inevitable that Elliott was going to end up as the highest non-playoff driver in the point standings.

Four races into the playoffs, Elliott has overtaken Joe Gibbs Racing rookie Ty Gibbs for that 17th spot.  He sits 15 points ahead of Gibbs after the round of 12 opener at Texas Motor Speedway, and with a significantly better average points per race mark (29.00 vs. 21.73).

Based on total points scored (excluding playoff resets), Elliott actually sits ahead of two playoff drivers, JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell, as well, and his points per race average is still good enough for seventh in the series.

But for a driver who led the series in wins last year with five, Chase Elliott is still looking to end the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season on a higher note.

Elliott’s No. 9 team is actually in the owner playoffs, since the points his replacements scored during his seven missed starts still counted toward the No. 9 team’s regular season point total. Despite Bubba Wallace making the playoffs, it was Elliott’s No. 9 team, not Wallace’s No. 23 team, which secured the 16th and final spot in the owner playoffs.

The No. 9 team also managed to advance to the round of 12, so as he seeks to make the 2023 season his sixth straight winning season — and possibly even a series-leading sixth straight multi-win season — Elliott is technically still in a championship fight, just not for himself.

The team sits just below the round of 8 cut line following an 11th place finish in the round of 12 opener at Texas.

Unsurprisingly, the No. 23 team occupies the top non-playoff spot in the owner standings, well ahead of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team in 18th place.

While Alex Bowman is behind Gibbs in the driver standings, Bowman’s No. 48 team is ahead of Gibbs’ No. 54 team since the points scored by replacement driver Josh Berry in the three races Bowman missed also counted toward the No. 48 team’s regular season point total.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

The round of 12 is set to continue this Sunday, October 1 with the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. The race is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now if you have not yet done so!