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Chase Elliott’s playoff hopes continue to slide at Watkins Glen

Photo of Chase Elliott by Erick Messer/TRE

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Chase Elliott’s surefire opportunity to win his way into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs came and went Sunday, leaving just one more chance to get in. 

Elliott finished 32nd in Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen, a track the No.9 team had circled on the schedule. The Glen is one of four tracks Elliott holds multiple Cup Series wins at. He also won two of the previous four races there.

The poor weekend for Hendrick Motorsports’ past champion started with qualifying, as Elliott qualified 15th.

While he didn’t pick up any stage points in the first stage, Elliott did gain eight spots under green and placed seventh in stage two.

Then, with 36 laps to go, everything fell apart for the No. 9 team.

On the frontstretch, just past the entrance to pit road, Elliott ran out of fuel. The team thought by flipping the switch to the reserves, they could make it back around.

However, Elliott came to a stop and brought out the only caution of the race. 

Over the radio, Elliott’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, told his driver the team had received bad information that caused their strategy to not work. 

Now, the objective is as clear as it gets — win next Saturday at Daytona.

This weekend, Elliott described having to win at Daytona like going to Las Vegas and needing to win a Jackpot. 

Elliott has shown plenty of ability to win at superspeedways, with two wins at Talladega and two top-fives at Daytona. At Talladega in the spring, he also led a season-high 18 laps and earned his only stage win of 2023.

Meanwhile, the No. 9 team is currently in the owners championship. They currently sit 14th, 30 points ahead of 23XI Racing’s No. 23 team. 

The Coke Zero Sugar 400 will be Elliott’s last hurrah to save his 2023 season next Saturday. The race will be broadcast on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90 with the green flag set to fly just after 7 P.M. EST. 

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