Held Back by Injury, Will Chase Elliott Finally Turn Tables at the 2024 Daytona 500?

Published 02/12/2024, 5:37 AM EST

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Chase Elliott is aiming for redemption in 2024. Having suffered a season of setbacks last year, NASCAR’s most popular driver won’t want his winless streak to continue. The NAPA Auto Parts No.9 Chevrolet driver only had a little to show for his off-season preparation at the Clash. A lackluster P22 finish summarized his evening at the Coliseum. However, the Clash isn’t substantial proof of a driver’s form. Elliott has the talent to clear the air in the 2024 Daytona 500.

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In 2023, Chase Elliott crashed out in the second lap of the Great American race. But that wasn’t the only unlucky incident in store for him. Two weeks later, he announced that he’d miss seven Cup races due to a tibia injury. The recovery period meant a loss of point-paying opportunities and a loss of momentum. Well, that is a thing of the past now. After a quiet off-season and a replenished physical condition, Elliott is hungry for success.

Chase Elliott could lead the fireworks at next week’s Daytona 500

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Since 2021, Elliott has started six races at the Daytona International Speedway. In that period, he has collected two top-5 and four top-10 finishes with an average finish of 15.2. Chase Elliott has been empirically fast at the Daytona 500. He has started on the pole two times, and his closest finish came in 2021 when he finished second behind Michael McDowell.

Speaking about what he would like 2024 to present him with, the 2020 Cup Series champion said, “I would like to have better pace.” However, great pace is only one of the things on his mind, with his sights set on a second Cup Series championship.

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“Winning would be great. Winning a championship would be great. We just want to have pace on a week-to-week basis, and that is where my head has been for a long time. I just want to show up and have a shot every week,” said Chase Elliott.

The build-up to 2024 has brought one significant change in the No.9 team. Chase Elliott’s former spotter, Eddie D’Hondt, has moved to the No.4 Ford team. D’Hondt has been succeeded by Elliott’s cousin, Trey Poole. Poole is a familiar figure in the team and has previously served as the No.9 Chevy’s crew chief. With his input at superspeedways being a valuable addition, the brothers could bring home a maiden Daytona 500 win.

Chase Elliott’s father, Bill Elliott, is also a former Daytona 500 winner. Elliott Sr won NASCAR’s crown jewel race in 1985, and it was the first time a car with a single digit on its hood won the Great American Race. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has also announced that he would race at the New Smyrna Speedway before the Daytona 500 to prepare for the year’s biggest race.

Elliott to prepare for Daytona at New Smyrna Speedway

The New Smyrna Speedway will host the annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing from February 8. The nine-day-long racing festival will also organize the Clyde Hart Memorial race on February 13, a day before qualifying sessions for the Daytona 500 begin. Chase Elliott announced that he would drive for FR8 Racing on Tuesday night.

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Having raced at non-Cup short tracks last year, he wants to gear up nicely for the compact action at Daytona. Chase Elliott isn’t the only star attraction in the race, as Ty Majeski, Bubba Pollard, and young sensation Caden Kvapil are also set to race. Elliott’s teammate William Byron won the race’s last two editions, which gives him even more reason to win at New Smyrna.

The feature race will run for 200 laps and offer $15,000 to its winner. Should Chase Elliott be bestowed a win, he’ll carry a confidence-boosting air to Daytona. If anything, the 28-year-old needs the taste of victory to keep the momentum going. Having endured a playoff-less season for the first time in his 8-year-old Cup Series career, he will have much to fight for.

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Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek

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Ansuman Abhisek is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. Even before he made his way into the world of motorsports, he had already made a name for himself in the sports journalism field by working as a writer for a few media houses. Now, having covered multiple Cup races live, he has often been the first to report on-track incidents and also provide his readers with an in-depth analysis of the same.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath

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