“That Was Wild”: Finals MVP LeBron James and the Lakers Capped Off a “Crazy” Year for Chase Elliott at Watkins Glen

Published 08/17/2023, 2:19 PM EDT

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With just 2 races to go for the playoffs, all eyes are on Hendrick Motorsports driver and 2020 Cup Series champion, Chase Elliott. While an unfortunate accident has got the 27-year-old out of 6 races, widening his points gap to make the cutline, his Indy race was nothing short of incredible.

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Though the #9 Chevy driver picked up a runner-up position just behind the race winner, Michael McDowell, Elliott is still not out of danger yet. However, the driver is confident and in good spirits as the HMS camp recently had a fascinating clip where Elliott, along with his championship-winning crew chief, detailed some lesser-known aspects of the driver’s 2020 title-winning race.

Speaking to his crew chief, the driver exuded enthusiasm, listing how he and his father had a similar fate years apart while NBA great LeBron James too ended his 2020 season on a high note.

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The stars were all aligned in 2020: Chase Elliott reveals the lesser-known aspect of his triumph

Unlike his 2023 season, where he missed 7 races, 2020 was a rollercoaster ride for Elliott. But that doesn’t mean it was a decent cruise to the title. Despite coming close to a win several times HMS ace, Chase Elliott missed a couple much like this season.

After Being Puzzled by HMS’ Decision, Chase Elliott Apologizes to Rick Hendrick & Co for Losing

However, the driver carried speed and was much more consistent, dishing out impressive performance to rack up his first NASCAR title 3 years ago in Phoenix Raceway. While the HMS driver claimed his first NASCAR title, bringing it back to the Elliott family, his win had far more details than we thought.

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As Elliott got hold of himself, overwhelmed by emotion. The day was much like when Bill Elliott won his title back in 1988 with the Los Angeles Dodgers racking up the MLB title while LA Lakers won the NBA championship. With the #9 Chevy crossing the finish line, the stars were all aligned as history repeated itself with both Dodgers and Lakers acing it in their respective sports, with the NBA great LeBron James becoming the MVP of the year for his standout performance.

Looking back at the monumental win, Elliott and his championship-winning crew chief, Alan Gustafson both were enthusiastic to uncover the hidden details with Elliott saying, “I mean and how many close, how many days we were so close to winning that could’ve.” To which the #9 crew chief pointed out the obvious similarity, he said,So the other one that was crazy, I remember is in 2020 when we won the championship.” 

With the driver going back in time to his stellar win, emotions soon got to him as he said, “The (LA) Lakers, the (Los Angeles) Dodgers won the MLB, the Lakers won the NBA and then dad won the deal that year the same thing, that was wild.

Is Watkins Glen, Chase Elliott’s only chance to chase the title?

Unfortunately for HMS fans, the short answer is yes. As we mentioned above, the current season is no way near what Elliott hoped it would be. With just 2 races to the playoffs, the HMS driver is yet to the party, still chasing his first win of the season despite having the win within his reach as we saw at Indy last week.

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While Michael McDowell squashed his hopes of winning it into the playoffs, Elliott had to be content with a close 2nd-place finish, climbing to the 19th spot in the rankings. With the Cup Series action heading to another road course favoring the best road racer in NASCAR, Elliott is indeed a solid contender to ace the road course and head into the playoffs.

WATCH THIS STORY: Brad Keselowski breaks the bubble of Chase Elliott and others

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But is that his only hope? Sadly, the answer is yes. After returning to the 2023 schedule following an untimely snowboarding accident, Elliott has been struggling to find his rhythm. Though the driver claimed a top-10 finish at Martinsville, the competition has been so fierce that Elliott will most probably need a win to keep his playoff hopes alive let alone his championship dreams.

 

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Written by:

Kishore R

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Kishore is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With a degree in engineering, Kishore's love for automobiles, particularly the roaring naturally-aspirated V8s, naturally led him to NASCAR. Kishore's writing is characterized by his intense passion for the sport, as well as his ability to conduct in-depth research and analysis.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare

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