Chase Elliott: How teamwork “changed the game” at superspeedways
While manufacturer and team coordination has become a key to success recently on NASCAR’s superspeedways, Cup Series star Chase Elliott is not a fan.
The issue was really thrust into the limelight last fall at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, when Stewart-Haas Racing’s four Ford drivers combined to lead 155 of 193 laps and ran together as a group for a vast majority of the event with one, Aric Almirola, ultimately winning the race.
Teamwork in superspeedway races is not new, particularly in a larger scale among manufacturers as a whole, but the Talladega race took it to the extreme.
Sunday’s race at Talladega will be the first there with the Cup Series’ new rules package, which leaves a question mark as to whether a repeat of last fall is possible. Elliott, for one, hopes not.
“I’m probably the wrong person to ask on this, but the way the manufacturers and everybody have really changed the game of plate racing, I’m not really sure what the right answer is on it,” he said. “I don’t really like what it’s done to the racing, personally; but it is what it is and everybody is being true to what matters, I guess, in their camps and that’s kind of the position that we’re all put in, unfortunately.
“I don’t think that’s the way everybody wants to be. It’s certainly not the way I want to be. But, that’s the position we’re put in now.”
Conscious of the efforts of Ford and Toyota of late at Daytona and Talladega, Elliott said efforts have been undertaken among Chevrolet teams to try to help one another.
He insists, however, it’s just never as easy as the plan may seem.
“You can orchestrate that and you can plan it and talk about it for weeks, months, and years ahead of time and when it comes down to it, all that stuff can change at the end of those races and you’re going to have people that you work well with and people that you don’t work well with,” he said. “Sometimes those people are going to be on the same manufacturer, sometimes it’s going to be the same team and sometimes it’s not going to be the same manufacturer and sometimes it’s not going to be on the same team.
“And that’s just part of it, and sometimes it’s the cards that you’re dealt in those situations. I do think that you can make a great effort to pit with one another and do certain things that you can ultimately have success at doing when numbers matter. And when it comes time to go do your job, I think it’s time to do that.”
In six career Cup starts at Talladega, Elliott has won one pole but has just two finishes better than 12th, including a third in this race one year ago. He’s led a total of 53 laps and wrecked out of two of the races.
Asked what it would take to get a breakthrough at Talladega this weekend, Elliott quipped: “Not crash.”
Elliott hopes the aero package changes this season will prevent some of the teamwork aspects of racing that has developed at these tracks of late but he’s ready either way.
“I kind of hope it’s something different. Personally, I don’t like how things have kind of evolved with being buddies with certain guys and whatnot,” he said. “The style of racing that we had, I felt like was good, when everybody was pushing and doing what they had to do.
“Since everybody is not doing that as much anymore and really staying true to their partners and their groups, my feelings wouldn’t be hurt if it changed to that dynamic and looked a little different.
“So, hopefully that’s the case.”
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro NAPA AUTO PARTS
Photo by: Russell LaBounty / NKP / LAT Images
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