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What started with high spirits is slowly turning awry as the 2024 season becomes a hard-toiled uphill battle for NASCAR’s most popular driver, Chase Elliott. As of now, after six races including one short track and road race, Elliott is the only one from the Hendrick Motorsports stable who has a top 5 finish missing from his resume.

Now, that is something absurd, especially when you consider the driver’s capabilities. However, that is also the brute reality Elliott fans have come to terms with. In fact, ever since his Colorado snowboarding accident last season, the Cup Series champion has never been himself, seeming more like a mere image of his former self.

Speaking on his Happy Hour podcast, the retired NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick shared his thoughts on Elliott’s current situation, letting us in on a few more details about how the Next-Gen platform is contributing to the driver’s unfortunate state.

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Kevin Harvick says Chase Elliott is not HMS’ top two

After six races this season, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver and the 2020 Cup Series champion, Chase Elliott has run no better than a P8 finish. In fact, he has led only 18 laps this year, which is nothing in comparison to what Kyle Larson, William Byron, and Alex Bowman have done. Larson and Byron themselves have three Cup finishes, with Byron winning twice at Daytona and COTA (a venue where Elliott had the upper hand courtesy of his road racing expertise).

Even Bowman, who also suffered a terrible accident last season, managed to bring two consecutive P4 finishes at Bristol and COTA. This brings us to the question: What is happening to Elliott? Kevin Harvick has a detailed answer to that. In his podcast, he said, “I think that the other interesting part is we’re talking about Hendrick’s top two drivers, right? I mean, one of them is not Chase Elliott.” 

Mentioning how Harvick’s team reached out to the #9 driver before the race and what Elliott had to say, Harvick said, “The one thing that he talked about was the difference in the braking and for me, that was a very hard situation to overcome as well because in the old car, you had to manage the car, you had to manage the situation as the tires would be out, the brakes would get hot, and things would start to change, wheel hop would start to be an issue in the back of of the old car. So, there was a technique which was also what made it hard for the Kobayashis and SVGs.” 

Briefly detailing the technical changes to the racecar, Harvick essentially said this has put drivers like Elliott in dire strait and has even mounted more pressure on him to perform.

Harvick explains the technicalities of what has changed in the Next-Gen car

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As NASCAR fans we all accept the transition the sport has gone through. Gone are the days of  solid rear suspension. The new generation cars have a new independent setup, a new transaxle that will combine the transmission and rear gears into one package, an 18-inch wheel with low profile tires amidst a myriad of other changes.

You don’t need to be an automobile expert to understand these changes will have consequential outcomes on the car’s performance, but to understand you need to hear from a driver who has driven both the old and new generation cars. So naturally, Harvick explained it perfectly. He said, “With the transaxle in the back, no truck arms anymore and there is no wheel hop anymore you can slide the rear tires under braking, but it’s a much more aggressive style of breaking and as we saw this weekend every single lap, it’s an aggressive style braking. The cars you have to drive them way into the corner, you have to use more brake pressure and the style of braking that you and how you let off the brake is much different than it used to be.” 

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USA Today via Reuters

Even the steering system that now comes in the rack and pinion setup is entirely different and feels like a new whole new setup as Harvick says and this has affected Elliott according to him.

READ MORE: The Reason Behind William Byron’s Unprecedented Success in the Last Two Seasons

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