DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chase Elliott is hoping to put the bad memories of last week’s Busch Clash behind him with a redeeming victory Sunday at the Daytona Int’l Speedway road course.
Should he win the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 on the 3.61-mile layout, which incorporates parts of the high-banked Daytona tri-oval with the track’s infield road course, it would mark Elliott’s fifth straight points-paying win on a road course in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
It’s a style of racing that Elliott didn’t necessarily grow up cutting his teeth with, but has grown to enjoy.
“Road racing, I feel like, gives you a little bit of everything,” Elliott told reporters during a media conference call on Friday. “The challenges that we see on road courses are just different than the typical oval track that we go to. A lot of times, it’s exciting, too. People are trying to get every inch of the track and, as we saw last week, running through the dirt trying to make it work. It’s just something a little different; a little bit of a change of pace.
“In that respect, I think it’s (a) nice (change) from the regular ovals.”
Over his last four road course wins, Elliott has led 176 of a possible 373 laps and started from as deep as 19th, which he did in 2019 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL en route to the victory that day.
However, he was denied late in the Clash thanks to a combination of older tires and a last-ditch pass attempt on longtime friend Ryan Blaney that went awry in the final chicane.
Kyle Busch ultimately passed Elliott in the final 100 yards for the top spot in the non-points exhibition event, which annually features pole winners and other top performers from the previous year’s NASCAR Cup Series campaign.
Reflecting on the finish of the Clash, Elliott admitted that he’d gone back and watched the video footage, but that he’s “moved on” from the moment and is focused on this weekend’s race.
“I haven’t really studied it, but I know what happened. I don’t get emotional watching it,” noted Elliott. “It’s one of those things where it happened, (and) it’s over with. I hate the result, but you have to learn from it. I think there’s a lot of things I can learn from last week. I think we can be better, from a balance standpoint. I think I can be better behind the wheel. And then obviously, if you get put in those situations like that, how would you go about it differently to have a different result.
“I think that’s kind of the big question from last week – what do you do differently? The bottom lane was there, I was kind of in there, and I don’t know exactly how to change up my approach there to better my chance of winning,” Elliott continued. “But all those things, I’ve thought them through. If we’re faced with it again, we’ll see how it goes.”
Elliott’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, noted that the No. 9 team’s execution and strategy weren’t up to par during the Busch Clash, and the reigning Cup Series champion hopes they can rectify that this time around at the World Center of Racing.
“I agree with him. I don’t think we were as good as we needed to be last week,” said Elliott. “I think the No. 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) was going to be the guy in that race last weekend. I think we can improve in multiple areas. I think we can make our car better. I think we can do better on pit road and I can do better on pit road, and I think I can do better on the track, too.
“I don’t think we were at our best by any means, and hopefully this weekend we’re back where we need to be.”
Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 is scheduled for a 3 p.m. ET start, with live coverage on FOX, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.