Analysis: A potential Chase Elliott streak is on the horizon
Chase ElliottThe position of ‘s in the hierarchy of the championship is special. He is the reigning champion of the series but also, sometimes, second violin in his own organization with Kyle larson having emerged as the new Hendrick Motorsports barometer. The tracks Elliott won this season, COTA and Road America, are road courses with no direct representation on the playoff schedule.
Despite his traditional stat line, he has shown flashes of brilliance in his top-end performances on tracks he will soon be visiting in stride:
- He had the fastest lap of any driver this spring in Las Vegas.
- Hendrick produced the fastest car of any organization at Talladega, a race in which Elliott led three laps and a track on which he is a former winner.
- One of his three second places on the ovals this season came in Martinsville, where he had a best-adjusted adjusted passing efficiency in the race (60.5%).
- His fifth place in Phoenix surpassed his median lap ranking (ninth) for the race and served as the best score within Hendrick.
Considering he’s made it to victory lane at six of the seven remaining facilities on the trophy track, it’s no longer possible that it looks like Elliott will be able to ward off “Mr. September “or” Mr. vibrations of October. Either way, what is clear is that after opening the playoffs with finishes 31st (Darlington) and 25th (Bristol) in the first round, he is not getting the recognition he deserves. as a viable title candidate.
So let’s respect his name:
Against all playoff teams on the regular season playoffs, Elliott and his No.9 team placed in the 88th percentile or higher in four key statistical categories – overshoot, weighted gain on flagged pit cycles green (noted as GF Offense), weighted retention rate on green flag pit cycles (GF Defense) and weighted retention rate on yellow flag stops (YF Defense). This symbolizes a team that hardly goes wrong with its position on the track. Elliott’s mistake in a pitstop on the 181st lap in Richmond was certainly a race-changing mistake, but such a thing is rare for him in a much larger setting.
Elliott’s pass, namely on long runs, is both a source of total offense – he achieved a 200 position pass differential beyond his statistical expectations – and of defense, representing a sort of efficiency, avoiding side-by-side jostling that thwart the tangible over-monitoring progress. This makes the usual explorations of Hendrick’s gray area in the inspection line more tolerable. By omitting Talladega, he achieved positive adjusted passing efficiencies on each of the remaining non-draft runs in his most recent starts. He is one of the four pilots who can make this claim, the others being Larson, Kyle busch and Alex Bowman.
But can he get away from them or other playoff drivers? Does he have this ability?
“It’s a fine line, isn’t it?” I feel like you always want to take that extra gear if you have it to shoot, ”Elliott said. “A lot of times you don’t. I think you can very easily go too far and get yourself into more trouble than if you were really doing what you had to work with.
“I think it’s recognizing these things. “Hey, can we be better? Do we have this equipment to shoot? Can we take it up a notch? If the answer is yes, OK, let’s do it somehow.
It looks like Elliott has another “contraption” that we can quantify. The main difference between it and the other three that can reliably pass on each remaining track is that a much higher potential cap can be observed.
Dating back to April, the gulf between Elliott’s middle lap and the fastest lap of each race was noticeable. Almost 22 weeks later, it still is. The No.9 car ranks fourth in terms of average lap time, while also placing second in each car’s best average ranking.. This team apparently has more speed than it usually shows, and if that increased speed holds up over any part of these playoffs, it would instantly outperform two Joe Gibbs Racing cars and compete fairly evenly with its most famous team partner:
Elliott had the fastest lap in seven races this season, the highest total in the series (Larson did the fastest lap in five races). But he placed first in median speed in just one race just once – in the February race at the Daytona road circuit, where he failed to convert his performance into victory.
It also looks like a disconnection that only requires a course correction. We could come as early as this weekend’s race in Las Vegas. The 1.5 mile track is an intriguing touchstone for Elliott’s career.
After not leading a lap in any of his first five Cup Series starts, he eventually clinched the top spot in fall 2019 and has recorded at least 12 leading laps per race since. His 20.6-place average belies a strong place for the 25-year-old – only Joey loganoElliott’s 9.6-place average race position exceeds Elliott’s 9.9-place mark. Unless there is a serious drop in form, he will be a staple at the front of the field.
From there Talladega and Loom Charlotte Roval – the latter on which Elliott has won the last two contests – before a semi-final consisting of Kansas, Texas and Martinsville. It’s a preparation for the season finale that can see individual favorites based on track characteristics and power sets, but Elliott is one of the few well suited to any course.
And while his potential cap this season hasn’t been hit, there’s room for some form of domination that we haven’t seen from him since around the same time last season.