Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Chase Elliott carries momentum into Watkins Glen

Chase Elliott is 15/1 to win at Watkins Glen.
TRENDING UPWARD: After scoring fifth- and seventh-place finishes the last two weekends, Chase Elliott has compiled some impressive statistics. The third-year driver has won two stages and collected a total of 38 stage points, both of which are the most among all drivers in the past two weeks. Elliott’s average running position (4.06) over those two races also leads all drivers. The driver of the No. 9 has earned 100 points over the last two weekends, ranked second only to Kevin Harvick, who has amassed 103.

SUNENERGY1 RETURNS: For the second time this season, SunEnergy1, one of the world’s largest privately held solar energy companies, will adorn the hood of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. SunEnergy1 will serve as the primary sponsor for Elliott in four NASCAR Cup Series races in 2018.

NEW LOOK FOR SUNENERGY1: The SunEnergy1 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will debut a new look this weekend at Watkins Glen. Elliott’s No. 9 Chevy has been transformed to look similar to Kenny Habul’s SunEnergy1 Racing No. 75 IMSA ride that is primarily blue and features flames on the hood and TV panel. Habul is the founder and CEO of SunEnergy1.

ROAD COURSE ROUNDUP: In the 22-year-old driver’s five previous starts in the Cup Series at road courses (Sonoma and Watkins Glen), Elliott has collected two top-10 finishes and averaged a starting position of 9.4 and finishing position of 11.8. Earlier this season, Elliott started and finished inside the top five at Sonoma Raceway, earning his career-best road course finish of fourth. The driver of the No. 9 has also made six road course starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (two apiece at Road America, Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio). Elliott finished inside the top 10 in all six starts and collected top-five finishes in four. In the Xfinity Series, the third-year driver averages a starting position of 7.8 and finishing position of 5.0 at road courses. Elliott garnered victories in his only road course starts in the NASCAR Truck Series (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, 2013) and K&N Pro Series West (Sonoma Raceway, 2016).

FIRST CAREER WIN: If Elliott wins this weekend at Watkins Glen International, he could join an impressive list of drivers who scored their first career win on a road course. One notable name on the list is his father, Bill Elliott, who captured his first career win at Riverside International Raceway on Nov. 20, 1983.

WATKINS GLEN STATS: Elliott is set to make his third Cup Series start at Watkins Glen International on Sunday. In the Dawsonville, Georgia, native's previous two starts at The Glen, he averages a starting position of 10.0 and finishing position of 13.0. Last season at the 2.45-mile road course, Elliott qualified fourth and raced inside the top 10 for much of the 90-lap event before ultimately finishing 13th after having to pit for fuel in the closing laps.

DRIVEN TO GIVE GLOVES: During the Watkins Glen race weekend, Elliott and 31 of his Cup Series competitors will wear Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s signature skeleton gloves to raise awareness for the Dale and Amy Earnhardt Fund at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Elliott has chosen blue gloves – they are modeled after the four butterflies that make up the Nationwide Children’s Hospital logo (blue, white, orange and yellow). Following the race, each pair of gloves will be autographed by the driver wearing them and put up for auction on the NASCAR Foundation auction site on Aug. 8. The funds will support patients and their families in pediatric injury rehabilitation, research and prevention.

POCONO REWIND: For the second consecutive weekend, Elliott and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team collected a stage win. The driver led 14 laps on his way to a solid seventh-place finish at Pocono Raceway. Elliott is currently 14th in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings with four races to go until the cutoff race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept. 9.

BIRTHDAY WISHES FOR ALAN: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will celebrate his 43rd birthday on Sunday, Aug. 5, in Watkins Glen. Gustafson, who grew up just down the road from historic Daytona International Speedway, got his start in racing turning wrenches on the go-karts of childhood friend Casey Yunick, the grandson of legendary car builder and mechanic Smokey Yunick.

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