Chase Elliott. (HHP/Chris Owens)

Elliott: Quietly Making History

Chase Elliott hasn’t been the winningest driver on the NASCAR Cup Series tour this season. He also isn’t leading the points or leading the series in top-five or top-10 finishes.

However, the Hendrick Motorsports driver has quietly compiled a unique streak this year that only seven other drivers in the history of the sport have done — score 16 straight top-20 finishes to start the season.

Only Kevin Harvick (2016), Jeff Burton (2008), Ricky Rudd (1991), Bill Elliott (1988), Dale Earnhardt (1987), Buddy Arrington (1982) and Lee Petty (1959) have achieved that mark. 

Is it a random stat? Yes. 

But it’s a major point of emphasis that consistency remains key in having a successful Cup Series season. 

Elliott is second in the standings, only 14 points behind teammate Kyle Larson, despite having two fewer victories on the year.

The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet triumphed at Texas Motor Speedway in April, snapping a 42-race winless streak. 

Chase Elliott on track at Sonoma Raceway. (HHP/David Graham)

Interestingly, nine other drivers have led more laps in Cup Series competition this season than Elliott (136). While Elliott may not be lighting up the top of the scoring pylon, he’s consistently stayed out of trouble and completed all but one lap (Bristol, one lap down).

Five of Elliott’s last seven starts have resulted in finishes of eighth or better, including a fourth-place effort this past weekend at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.

Following the race, Elliott was pleased with the result despite not being able to match the pace of Larson, who won the race.

“It was a normal road course race. I felt like we were on the right strategy, I just lost too much time there early in the race,” Elliott said. “I fell back a few rows and felt like our group that we were racing against were who we were probably going to be racing for the win. 

“Fell behind there early; lost a couple of rows and just never could get it back. I’m not sure I had the pace Kyle (Larson) had, but thought we were a solid top-three to five car and that’s where we finished. We’ll try again next week.”

The Cup Series heads to a new race track, Iowa Speedway this weekend, where Elliott has tallied four top-nine finishes in four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the seven-eighths-mile short oval.

That includes a runner-up finish in the 2015 spring race.