By: Pete Pistone – @PPistone | MRN.com on October 21, 2016 | 1:35 P.M. EST
“It’s a simple position that we are in and we are up for the challenge and looking forward to Sunday.” (Photo: Getty Images)
Chase Elliott needs to pull out of the bottom four of the Chase grid in Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway or his championship hopes will end.
The Hendrick Motorsports rookie is the last driver in the Round of 12 after a second round that has seen disappointment at both Charlotte and Kansas.
However despite the frustration, Elliott does see a silver lining.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by the outcome the past couple of weekends,” Elliott said Friday at Talladega. “I think anybody would be and should be. The biggest piece of it I think is the encouragement of how we have been running. I’ve been impressed with how our team has come together, how we’ve stepped up our game as an organization when it came time to start the Chase.
“I think that says a lot about our group and our team for not quitting and getting to where we need to be and keep fighting for that right direction. To be honest with you, yes, I’m disappointed. Yes, it’s a bummer, I hate it. You hate to have things go like they have, but I think I’m more encouraged by the way we have been running.”
Elliott has consistently shown since the Chase began at Chicagoland Speedway in mid-September to have one of the fastest cars on a near weekly basis. But bad breaks, miscues, mechanical challenges and accidents have added up to put him in the basement of the standings.
Even though the odds may seem stacked against him, Elliott remains positive that he can find a way to advance in the Chase this weekend at Talladega.
“I 100 percent think if we can advance through this weekend I without a doubt feel like we can be a contender,” he said. “I think if you don’t feel that way you need to go home. I definitely feel that way. I think we have been running well enough the past couple of weeks to be a contender.
“Obviously, we haven’t had the finishes to show it, but I feel like the way we’ve been clicking, pit road, practice, the race, I feel like all that stuff has been going in the right direction. I definitely think that we could be one of those guys if we can make it through this weekend.”
Elliott has proven to be a solid restrictor plate racer during both his XFINITY Series and Sprint Cup Series careers. He had an impressive afternoon at Talladega back in May, which gives him additional confidence coming into Sunday’s race.
He fully understands a win is realistically the only way Elliott can remain a player in the Chase picture.
“Like I said, it’s a simple position that we are in and we are up for the challenge and looking forward to Sunday,” he said.