The NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Champion will need all of his Bonus Points to avoid disqualification. Chase Elliott started qualifying in 2022 by crashing into a wall and heading to the garage after falling victim to a DVP clock.
The accident occurred with three laps remaining in the opening stage of the South 500. Elliott lost control of the #9 Chevrolet Camaro and bounced off the outer wall. Slide around the bend before hitting the outer wall again and collecting the #14 Ford Mustang from Chase Briscoe.
Both drivers headed to their pit booths for repairs, but it was doubtful Elliott’s team could get the job done in the allotted 10 minutes. He obviously broke the toe ring, but he also broke the lower control arm.
Team #9 at Hendrick Motorsports attempted repairs, but were unable to complete them before the clock hit 10 minutes. This means that Elliott will start the playoffs with the DNF. He will also leave Darlington Raceway and score last, provided there are no disqualifications.
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Elliott used many of his bonus points
The No. 9 seed driver entered the postseason with an extra 40 points after winning four races, five states and the regular season championship. He was 33 points above the cut-off line, and he looked like the best in the round of 12.
The situation changed with DNF at Darlington Racecourse. Elliot’s night is over, and he has used up more than half of his bonus points. According to NBC’s live feed, he’s headed into the garage just 19 points above the cutoff line.
This total must change based on the remaining two stages of the knockout race. Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Ross Chastain and other tournament hopefuls can secure points by finishing each stage within the top ten, which will help them gain ground on Elliott.
“I don’t think there is any period of time where you should think anything is taken for granted, and I don’t think any amount of playoff points is ever going to be safe,” Elliott told the media ahead of the weekend game. “The rounds are very short. You can have two bad weeks in a row, and do nothing wrong. And the next thing you know, you are in a position where you have to win last.”
Elliott’s next two races will play a major role
DNF at Darlington Raceway was exactly what Elliott and crew chief Alan Gustafson hoped to avoid. He definitely removed his cushion above the cut-off line and created more problems in the last two races of the Round of 16.
Elliott will then head to Kansas Speedway, a track where he has previously had success. He’s made 13 starts in the middle ring, and has eight top ten spots with six top five players. Elliott also won a playoff race at Kansas Speedway during the 2018 season.
The Round of 16 will conclude with a trip to Bristol Motor Speedway. The 2021 playoff race wasn’t a great night for Elliott considering he cut a tire while fighting Kevin Harvick in the final stage. He finally finished the night 25th overall. Although he still moved to the next round of playoffs.
Elliott’s last race at Bristol Motor Speedway didn’t feature a solid finish, but he competed for the top five and top 10 at the short track throughout his career. This includes third place in 2018 and fifth place in 2019.
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