Crew Chief Gustafson Feels Epic 2020 Win Gives ‘No Advantage’ to Chase Elliott in Martinsville NASCAR Race

Published 04/09/2021, 12:30 PM EDT
Mar 7, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott (9) during the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


Chase Elliott returns to a track where he recorded one of his most memorable NASCAR victories in last season’s playoff race. Elliott overcame issues in a must-win situation to win the chequered flag at Martinsville Speedway to book his place in the championship race, which he eventually won.

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So far, in 2021, Elliott and the no. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team have not been up to the mark. Elliott has encountered mid-race incidents and an engine failure so far this season, which has prevented him from winning.

Martinsville comes at a good time for the team as the memories of the last race there can motivate them further for Saturday’s night race.

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AVONDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 08: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Season Finale 500 and the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Crew chief Gustafson won’t put extra pressure on Chase Elliott

Crew chief Alan Gustafson stressed that the team hasn’t had a race with no issues. At the same time, while Elliott and the team are looking forward to a Martinsville return, last year’s win will have no bearing on Saturday’s race, believes Gustafson.

“Winning there last year, that was last year. It’s not going to give us any advantage this year, so we just got to go do our jobs and try and execute a nice, clean race and get a good result,” Gustafson said in a recent interview.

With seven different winners already this year, the battle for the playoffs keeps getting tenser every week. Elliott’s inconsistency might have fans worried, however, Gustafson has some good news for them as he feels the team has no major issues stopping them from a win.

Daytona Beach, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott (9) makes a pit stop during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“From the team side, I don’t feel like there’s any huge, glaring issues. We just have to make sure we continue to improve and clean up little issues that have been blighting us,” Gustafson said.

You’re just always trying to improve on all the aspects of the car, the pit stops, the strategy, what Chase does.”

You can control your own destiny at Martinsville, feels Gustafson

Coming back to Martinsville, Gustafson looks forward to some good racing there. He prefers the track and feels if a team brings a good car there, which Chase has, they are never out of contention.

“It’s a cool place, and it’s a place where if your car is good, you can kind of control your own destiny. You can pass and make time, and that’s always fun,” he expressed.

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Elliott will look to channel that winning mentality from the 2020 Martinsville race on Saturday night. He could very well be in a battle for the win with teammates Kyle Larson and William Byron, both of whom have been fast this season.

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Aayush Majumdar

996 articles

Aayush Majumdar is a NASCAR content strategist, a Tennis Writer, and a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. He is well-tenured as a tennis and NASCAR writer, with over 900 articles across both sports. After pursuing a Post Graduate program in Sports Management, Aayush explored various roles in Sports Media, including a Sports Reporting role at a leading English daily.

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