Chase Elliott "without a doubt" believes he can be Cup title contender

Even though he has yet to earn his first Sprint Cup Series victory this season, Chase Elliott firmly believes if he can advance to the next round of the Chase, his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team can be a contender for the championship.

Chase Elliott "without a doubt" believes he can be Cup title contender
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Hendrick Motorsports Chase drivers: Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson
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Entering Sunday’s Chase cut-off race, though, that’s a mighty large “if.” 

Elliott is last in points among the 12 remaining Chase drivers. After Sunday’s race, the four lowest Chase drivers in points without a win will be eliminated from further title contention as the field is cut from 12 to eight.

“I 100 percent think if we can advance through this weekend I without a doubt feel like we can be a contender. I think if you don’t feel that way you need to go home,” Elliott said Friday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. “I definitely feel that way. 

"I think we have been running well enough the past couple of weeks to be a contender. Obviously, we haven’t had the finishes to show it, but I feel like the way we’ve been clicking, pit road, practice, the race – I feel like all that stuff has been going in the right direction.”

A win on Sunday would lock Elliott into the next round regardless of how any other driver finishes, but short of that, he will need to make up a lot of ground. He trails eighth place by 25 points heading into the race.

Getting back up after rough two weeks

Elliott said the difficulty he and his team has experienced the last two weeks have actually simplified his situation this weekend.

“I think for us we are obviously disappointed in the way the past two weeks have gone having such strong cars over the past two weeks and having the ability to go and contend with some of those guys,” he said.

“Obviously, to end like it did was disappointing, but for us, it puts us in a pretty simplistic situation for this weekend having to have a really good run, if not have to win. We are up for the challenge and I’m looking forward to Sunday.”

Elliott and six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson were the only two Hendrick drivers to qualify for the Chase and Johnson is already locked in the next round thanks to his win two weeks ago at Charlotte.

The value of friends at Talladega

That said, look for Elliott to get some assistance from his HMS teammates in Sunday’s race – at least as much as is possible in what can become a rapidly changing dynamic on the track.

“We have seen groups or teams work together in the past to try to help a guy have a good run or help an organization to have a good run as a whole. We have had some small conversations, but we are going to go into more detail I feel like later on this weekend,” Elliott said.

“At the end of the day you can be in situations and it can be hard to help somebody so to speak, but there are sometimes where you could hurt them a lot easier. So, I think (the goal is) just trying to avoid the hurt side of that and just be as helpful as you can be without getting yourself in trouble.”

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