NASCAR: Chase Elliott still in championship contention?

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

Chase Elliott still has a chance to lead his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team to a NASCAR Cup Series owner championship, even as a non-playoff driver.

Nine drivers enter the round of 8 of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs still with a chance to win a championship, with Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott being the odd man out in that he cannot actually be crowned champion come November’s Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway.

Elliott remains in title contention because of where his No. 9 team stands in the owner playoffs, having locked into the postseason even though the driver himself was not able to do so after missing seven of 26 regular season races, six due to injury and one due to suspension.

While 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace took the 16th and final spot in the driver playoffs, it was the No. 9 team that beat out Wallace’s No. 23 team to become the 16th and final team in the owner playoffs.

So Chase Elliott was technically one of 17, not just 16, drivers who entered the postseason with a NASCAR Cup Series championship to fight for.

The 27-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia native may not be able to become a two-time champion this year, but he can still deliver a second owner title in four years to Rick Hendrick’s No. 9 team.

With three straight top eight finishes in the round of 16 and three more top 11 finishes in the round of 12, he was able to overcome the No. 9 team’s playoff point deficit and get the team into the round of 8 of the owner playoffs.

The only playoff point with which the No. 9 team entered the owner playoffs was the one Elliott earned by winning stage one at Talladega Superspeedway back in April.

He secured another one ahead of the round of 8 by winning stage two at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval in the round of 12, but the No. 9 team is still set to enter the round of 8 in eighth place in the standings as the fourth of four remaining teams below the Championship 4 cut line.

On the driver side, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. remains in championship contention, even though the No. 9 team effectively took his No. 19 team’s spot, thanks to the difference in the location of the cut line in the driver playoffs and the owner playoffs.

The other seven drivers still in contention all have their teams remaining in the owner playoffs as well.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is giving fans a guaranteed $200 just for betting $5 on any driver — win or lose — to win the championship, lists Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron as this year’s title favorite.

Odds and availability are always subject to change, so lock in your instant $200 now before it’s too late!

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

Las Vegas Motor Speedway is scheduled to get the round of 8 underway this Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET. NBC is set to broadcast the South Point 400 live, so begin a free trial of FuboTV today and don’t miss it!